"To write him off as a crazy hippie is a rather lazy approach to a man not only full of fascinating ideas but also blessed with a sense of humor and self-parody... ."
Tom Hodgkinson, The New Statesman and Society, 1994.
[Work in Progress]
If the truth can be told so as to be understood, it will be believed.
I’ll try to be around and about. But if I’m not, then you know that I’m behind your eyelids, and I’ll meet you there.
[True Conversations, 1999]
We could feel the presence of some invisible hyperspatial entity, an ally, which seemed to be observing and sometimes exerting influence on the situation to keep us moving gently toward an experimental resolution of the ideas we were generating. Because of the alien nature of the tryptamine trance, its seeming accentuation of themes alien, insectile, and futuristic, and because of previous experiences with tryptamine in which insectile hallucinatory transformations of human beings were observed, we were led to speculate that the role of the presence was somehow like that of an an- thropologist, come to give humanity the keys to galactarian citizenship. We discussed this entity in terms of a giant insect and, through the insect trill of the Amazon jungle at midday, seemed able to discern a deeper harmonic buzz that somehow signified the unseen outsider. This sense of the presence of an alien third entity was sometimes very intense...
[The Invisible Landscape, 1975]
People are so alienated from their own soul that when they meet their soul they think it comes from another star system.
...my opinion is that what we need to do is to concentrate on the phenomenon of communication and the evolution of language. We have been far to naïve about the role that language has played in the construction of reality at its center, let alone off on the fringes with the elves and the fairies and the UFOs. We need to test the envelope of language. We need to perfect the fine idea of being able to communicate with each other.
At the moment, and I think we proved it at this conference, it’s nothing more than a fine idea. I felt that, before I came to this meeting, that we would all sit down in a room and make great progress in about an hour toward understanding the phenomenon, and then I discovered that we were all, including myself, heavily freighted with linguistic momentum. The power of our own metaphors to carry us past the opportunity to listen to what other people were saying, and so I think that what we are dreaming of is a common language, and what the saucers are attempting to teach is the modality of a linguistic transformation in the direction of a kind of communication that... is in the bones, in the neurons, in the synapses so that the ambiguity, which attends all our discussions about reality, will be purged from our worldview. This is the essence of falling of love. One definition of falling in love is nothing more than lifting the veils of misconception between two entities, and still being able to go forward toward some kind of union.
Each one of us is a swim in a concatenation of emotionally subtle wave phenomena that come and go just below the surface of our awareness, but if any one of us turns to another and asks how are you doing the answer is "fine fine, yourself?" This is presenting a tremendous barrier to us to the expression of our wholeness, and I’m completely willing to line up behind Carl Jung on the notion that the UFO is an expression of our longing for wholeness.
And my take on this... is that what we are involved in and with in the UFO phenomena is an extremely poignant and intense effort to end our alienation from the unconscious, that we can no longer have the luxury of an unconscious... , that that is an artifact of the childhood of our species, and that in fact the ending of childhood-- anticipated brilliantly in Arthur C. Clark’s novel Childhood’s End-- the ending of childhood is what we are experiencing in relationship to the alien archetype.
As a species we are coming into a kind of pubescent awareness of the presence of the Other. Our childish historical concerns that were self-directed and self-indulgent no longer satisfy, and a deep kind of yearning has come upon the species; a yearning for the confirmation of the presence of an other, in the same way that an adolescent child becomes aware of and develops an extremely intense, highly charged, and ambivalent attitude toward the opposite sex. I think we are discovering, in our own psychic structure, the potential, the possibility, of a relationship with an intelligent species outside ourselves, and this raises for us all the tensions, all the issues that accompany an adolescent love affair.
I really believe that we have moved so far from an awareness of the feminine portion of our psyche that now the thing dearest to us and closest to us must present itself in consciousness under the guise of an extraterrestrial or interdimensional invader.
We are in fact on the brink of great changes. ...the overwhelming image of self-transcendent flight of return to a mandalic unity that transcends space and time is the guiding archetype of our peregrination through history.
[Shamanic Approaches to the UFO, 1987]
I have often in my mind the image of the world’s largest radio telescope is at Aracibo Puerto Rico, and it’s used to search for extraterrestrial radio signals, and it’s so big, this massive metal structure, that it’s hung in a round valley on these towers so that it can be manipulated, and its’ hung in this valley that they scooped out with bulldozers, and they made a perfect bowl, and they planted grass under the telescope in this bowl, and they put cattle on the grass to keep it short. So here’s the world’s largest radio telescope staring out at NGC3264 with a six billion channel analyzer searching the noise that drifts between the stars for some clue to extraterrestrial intelligence. Meanwhile, two hundred feet below the telescope in the dung of the cattle, perfect specimens of stropharia cubensis are proliferating furiously, being gathered by the locals, and sold to tourists who talk to extraterrestrials back in their motel room.
And that is the perfect symbol for how we search for extraterrestrial life: its at your feet!
The humor of the thing is amazing. It can come at you, so many different ways. [...] The scariest thing to say to it is: 'Show me what you really are for yourself.' And after about 40 seconds of that you say 'I'm sorry I even asked!', you know, 'reassure me!' And you have a sense, 'my god, this thing is what it seems to be, its a galactic intelligence, its a billion years old, its touched ten million worlds, it knows the history of a hundred and fifty thousand civilizations, its beyond your possibility of conceiving, and why it is communicating with an organic atom like yourself is not entirely clear.'
...the question of contact with extraterrestrials is a kind of red herring premised upon a number of assumptions that a moment's reflection will show are completely false. To search expectantly for a radio signal from an extraterrestrial source is probably as culture-bound a presumption as to search the galaxy for a good Italian restaurant. And yet, this has been chosen as the avenue by which it is assumed contact is likely to occur. Meanwhile, there are people all over the world — psychics, shamans, mystics, schizophrenics — whose heads are filled with information, but it has been ruled a priori irrelevant, incoherent, or mad. Only that which is validated through consensus via certain sanctioned instrumentalities will be accepted as a signal. The problem is that we are actually so inundated by these signals — these other dimensions — that there is a great deal of noise in the circuit.
The psilocybin mushrooms also convey one into the world of the tryptamine hypercontinuum. [...] The true history of the galaxy over the last four and a half billion years is trivial to it. One can access images of cosmological history.
The psilocybin mushrooms do the same things that DMT does... . There is the same confrontation with an alien intelligence
Naturally, as a result of the confrontation of alien intelligence with organized intellect on the other side, many theories have been elaborated. The theory that I put forth in Psilocybin: The Magic Mushroom Grower's Guide, held the Stropharia cubensis mushroom was a species that did not evolve on earth. Within the mushroom trance, I was informed that once a culture has complete understanding of its genetic information, it re-engineers itself for survival. The Stropharia cubensis mushroom's version of re-engineering is a mycelial network strategy when in contact with planetary surfaces and a spore-dispersion strategy as a means of radiating throughout the galaxy. And, though I am troubled by how freely Bell's non-locality theorem is tossed around, nevertheless the alien intellecton on the other side does seem to be in possession of a huge body of information drawn from the history of the galaxy. It/they say that there is nothing unusual about this, that humanity's conceptions of organized intelligence and the dispersion of life in the galaxy are hopelessly culture-bound, that the galaxy has been an organized society for billions of years. Life evolves under so many different regimens of chemistry, temperature, and pressure, that searching for an extraterrestrial who will sit down and have a conversation with you is doomed to failure. The main problem with searching for extraterrestrials is to recognize them. Time is so vast and evolutionary strategies and environments so varied that the trick is to know that contact is being made at all. The Stropharia cubensis mushroom, if one can believe what it says in one of its moods, is a symbiote, and it desires ever deeper symbiosis with the human species. It achieved symbiosis with human society early by associating itself with domesticated cattle and through them human nomads. Like the plants men and women grew and the animals they husbanded, the mushroom was able to inculcate itself into the human family, so that where human genes went these other genes would be carried.
But the classic mushroom cults of Mexico were destroyed by the coming of the Spanish conquest. The Franciscans assumed they had an absolute monopoly on theophagy, the eating of God; yet in the New World they came upon people calling a mushroom teonanacatl, the flesh of the gods. They set to work, and the Inquisition was able to push the old religion into the mountains of Oaxaca so that it only survived in a few villages when Valentina and Gordon Wasson found it there in the 1950s.
There is another metaphor. One must balance these explanations. Now I shall sound as if I didn't think the mushroom is an extraterrestrial. It may instead be what I've recently come to suspect - that the human soul is so alienated from us in our present culture that we treat it as an extraterrestrial. To us the most alien thing in the cosmos is the human soul. Aliens Hollywood-style could arrive on earth tomorrow and the DMT trance would remain more weird and continue to hold more promise for useful information for the human future. It is that intense. Ignorance forced the mushroom cult into hiding. Ignorance burned the libraries of the Hellenistic world at an earlier period and dispersed the ancient knowledge, shattering the stellar and astronomical machinery that had been the work of centuries. By ignorance I mean the Hellenistic-Christian-Judaic tradition. The inheritors of this tradition built a triumph of mechanism. It was they who later realized the alchemical dreams of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries - and the twentieth century - with the transformation of elements and the discovery of gene transplants. But then, having conquered the New World and driven its people into cultural fragmentation and diaspora, they came unexpectedly upon the body of Osiris - the condensed body of Eros - in the mountains of Mexico where Eros has retreated at the coming of the Christos. And by finding the mushroom, they unleashed it.
Phillip K. Dick, in one of his last novels, "Valis", discusses the long hibernation of the Logos. A creature of pure information, it was buried in the ground at Nag Hammadi, along with the burying of the Chenoboskion Library circa 370 A.D. As static information, it existed there until 1947, when the texts were translated and read. As soon as people had the information in their minds, the symbiote came alive, for, like the mushroom consciousness, Dick imagined it to be a thing of pure information. The mushroom consciousness is the consciousness of the Other in hyperspace, which means in dream and in the psilocybin trance, at the quantum foundation of being, in the human future, and after death. All of these places that were thought the be discrete and separate are seen to be part of a single continuum. History is the dash over ten to fifteen thousand years from nomadism to flying saucer, hopefully without ripping the envelope of the planet so badly that the birth is aborted and fails.
History is the shockwave of eschatology. Something is at the end of time and is casting an enormous shadow over human history, drawing all human becoming toward it. All the wars, the philosophies, the rapes, the pillaging, the migrations, the cities, the civilizations - all of this is occupying a microsecond of geological, planetary, and galactic time as the monkeys react to the symbiote, which is in the environment and which is feeding information to humanity about the larger picture. I do not belong to the school that wants to attribute all of our accomplishments to knowledge given to us as a gift from friendly aliens - I'm describing something I hope is more profound than that. As nervous systems evolve to higher and higher levels, they come more and more to understand the true situation in which they are embedded, and the true situation in which we are embedded is an organism, an organization of intelligence on a galactic scale.
...what is loose on this planet is language, self-replicating information systems that reflect functions of DNA... .Then again, language may be a quality of an entirely different order. Whatever language is, it is in us monkeys now and moving through us and moving out of our hands and into the noosphere with which we have surrounded ourselves.
The tryptamine state seems to be in one sense transtemporal; it is an anticipation of the future, It is as though Plato's metaphor were true - that time IS the moving image of eternity. The tryptamine ecstasy is a stepping out of the moving image and into eternity, the eternity of the standing now, the nunc stans of Thomas Aquinas. In that state, all of human history is seen to lead toward this culminating moment. Acceleration is visible in all the processes around us: the fact that fire was discovered several million years ago; language came perhaps thirty-five thousand years ago; measurement, five thousand; Galileo, four hundred; then Watson-Crick and DNA. What is obviously happening is that everything is being drawn together. [...] Consciousness is somehow able to collapse the state vector and thereby cause the stuff of being to undergo what Alfred North Whitehead called "the formality of actually occurring." Here is the beginning of an understanding of the centrality of human beings. Western societies have been on a decentralizing bender for five hundred years, concluding that the Earth is not the center of the universe and man is not the beloved of God. We have moved ourselves out toward the edge of the galaxy, when the fact is that the most richly organized material in the universe is the human cerebral cortex, and the densest and richest experience in the universe is the experience you are having right now. Everything should be constellated outward from the perceiving self. That is the primary datum.
The perceiving self under the influence of these hallucinogenic plants gives information that is totally at variance with the models that we inherit from our past, yet these dimensions exist. One one level, this information is a matter of no great consequence, for many cultures have understood this for millennia. But we moderns are so grotesquely alienated and taken out of what life is about that to us it comes as a revelation.
There are few clues that these extradimensional places exist. If art carries images out of the Other from the Logos to the world - drawing ideas down into matter - why is human art history so devoid of what psychedelic voyagers have experienced so totally? Perhaps the flying saucer or UFO is the central motif to be understood in order to get a handle on reality here and now.
We are alienated, so alienated that the self must disguise itself as an extraterrestrial in order not to alarm us with the truly bizarre dimensions that it encompasses. When we can love the alien, then we will have begun to heal the psychic discontinuity that has plagued us since at least the sixteenth century, possibly earlier.
My testimony is that magic is alive in hyperspace. It is not necessary to believe me, only to form a relationship with these hallucinogenic plants. The fact is that the gnosis comes from plants.
Experimenters should be very careful. One must build up to the experience. These are bizarre dimensions of extraordinary power and beauty. There is no set rule to avoid being overwhelmed, but move carefully, reflect a great deal, and always try to map experiences back onto the history of the race and the philosophical and religious accomplishments of the species.
There is a very interesting story by Jorge Luis Borges called "The Sect of the Phoenix." Allow me to recapitulate. Borges starts out by writing: "There is no human group in which members of the sect do not appear. It is also true that there is no persecution or rigor they have not suffered and perpetrated." He continues,
...the rite is the only religious practice observed by the sectarians. The rite constitutes the Secret. This Secret...is transmitted from generation to generation. ...The act in itself is trivial, momentary, and requires no description. ...The Secret is sacred, but is always somewhat ridiculous; its performance is furtive and even clandestine and the adept do not speak of it. There are no decent words to name it, but it is understood that all words name it or, rather, inevitably allude to it.
Borges never explicitly says what the Secret is, but if one knows his other story, "The Aleph," one can put these two together and realize that the Aleph is the experience of the Secret of the Cult of the Phoenix.
In the Amazon, when the mushroom was revealing its information and deputizing us to do various things, we asked, "Why us? Why should we be the ambassadors of an alien species into human culture?" And it answered, "Because you did not believe in anything. Because you have never given over your belief to anyone." The sect of the phoenix, the cult of this experience, is perhaps millennia old, but it has not yet been brought to light where the historical threads may run. The prehistoric use of ecstatic plants on this planet is not well understood. Until recently, psilocybin mushroom taking was confined to the central isthmus of Mexico. The psilocybin-containing species Stropharia cubensis is not known to be in archaic use in a shamanic rite anywhere in the world. DMT is used in the Amazon and has been for millennia, but by cultures quite primitive - usually nomadic hunter-gatherers.
The tragedy of our cultural situation is that we have no shamanic tradition. Shamanism is primarily techniques, not ritual. It is a set of techniques that have been worked out over millennia that make it possible, though perhaps not for everyone, to explore these areas. People of predilection are noticed and encouraged. [....] Shamans are peripheral to society's goings on in ordinary social life in every sense of the word. They are called on in crisis, and the crisis can be someone dying or ill, a psychological difficulty, a marital quarrel, a theft, or weather that must be predicted.
We do not live in that kind of society, so when I explore these plants' effects and try to call your attention to them, it is as a phenomenon. I don't know what we can do with this phenomenon, but I have a feeling that the potential is great. The mind-set that I always bring to it is simply exploratory and Baconian - the mapping and gathering of facts.
Herbert Guenther talks about human uniqueness and says one must come to terms with one's uniqueness. We are naive about the role of language and being as the primary facts of experience. What good is a theory of how the universe works if it's a series of tensor equations that, even when understood, come nowhere tangential to experience? The only intellectual or noetic or spiritual path worth following is one that builds on personal experience.
What the mushroom says about itself is this: that it is an extraterrestrial organism, that spores can survive the conditions of interstellar space. They are deep, deep purple - the color that they would have to be to absorb the deep ultraviolet end of the spectrum. The casing of a spore is one of the hardest organic substances known. The electron density approaches that of a metal.
Is it possible that these mushrooms never evolved on earth? That is what the Stropharia cubensis itself suggests. Global currents may form on the outside of the spore. The spores are very light and by Brownian motion are capable of percolation to the edge of the planet's atmosphere. Then, through interaction with energetic particles, some small number could actually escape into space. Understand that this is an evolutionary strategy where only one in many billions of spores actually makes the transition between the stars - a biological strategy for radiating throughout the galaxy without a technology. Of course this happens over very long periods of time. But if you think that the galaxy is roughly 100,000 light-years from edge to edge, if something were moving only one one-hundredth the speed of light - now that's not a tremendous speed that presents problems to any advanced technology - it could cross the galaxy in one hundred million years. There's life on this planet 1.8 billion years old; that's eighteen times longer than one hundred million years. So, looking at the galaxy on those time scales, one sees that the percolation of spores between the stars is a perfectly viable strategy for biology. It might take millions of years, but it's the same principle by which plants migrate into a desert or across an ocean.
I don't necessarily believe what the mushroom tells me; rather we have a dialogue. It is a very strange person and has many bizarre opinions. I entertain it the way I would any eccentric friend. I say, "Well, so that's what you think." When the mushroom began saying it was an extraterrestrial, I felt that I was placed in the dilemma of a child who wishes to destroy a radio to see if there are little people inside. I couldn't figure out whether the mushroom is the alien or the mushroom is some kind of technological artifact allowing me to hear the alien when the alien is actually light-years aways, using some kind of Bell non-locality principle to communicate.
The mushroom states its own position very clearly. It says, "I require the nervous system of a mammal. Do you have one handy?"
[Tryptamine Hallucinogens and Consciousness, 1982, published in 1999. Note: see article by Bracewell published in Nature in 1960 Communications from Superior Galactic Communities. See also 'Bracewell probe'.]
Editors note: in relation to below, see Jung's 'personification of the unconscious' in his 'Modern Man in Search of a Soul' ("If it were permissible to personify the unconscious, we might call it a collective human being combining the characteristics of both sexes, transcending youth and age, birth and death, and, from having at his command a human experience of one or two million years, almost immortal. If such a being existed, he would be exalted above all temporal change; the present would mean neither more nor less to him than any year in the one hundredth century before Christ; he would be a dreamer of age-old dreams and, owing to his immeasurable experience, he would be an incomparable prognosticator. He would have lived countless times over the life of the individual, of the family, tribe, and people, and he would possess the living sense of the rhythm of growth, flowering and decay.")
"I am old, older than thought in your species, which is itself fifty times older than your history. Though I have been on earth for ages I am from the stars. My home is no one planet, for many worlds scattered through the shining disc of the galaxy have conditions which allow my spores an opportunity for life. The mushroom which you see is the part of my body given to sex thrills and sun bathing, my true body is a fine network of fibers growing through the soil. These networks may cover acres and may have far more connections that the number in a human brain. My mycelial network is nearly immortal, only the sudden toxification of a planet or the explosion of its parent star can wipe me out. By means impossible to explain because of certain misconceptions in your model of reality all my mycelial networks in the galaxy are in hyperlight communication across space and time. The mycelial body is as fragile as a spider's web but the collective hypermind and memory is a vast historical archive of the career of evolving intelligence on many worlds in our spiral star swarm. Space, you see, is a vast ocean to those hardy life forms that have the ability to reproduce from spores, for spores are covered with the hardest organic substance known. Across the aeons of time and space drift many spore-forming life-forms in suspended animation for millions of years until contact is made with a suitable environment. Few such species are minded, only myself and my recently evolved near relatives have achieved the hyper-communication mode and memory capacity that makes us leading members in the community of galactic intelligence. How the hypercommunication mode operates is a secret which will not be lightly given to man. But the means should be obvious: it is the occurrence of psilocybin and psilocin in the biosynthetic pathways of my living body that opens for me and my symbiots the vision screens to many worlds. You as an individual and man as a species are on the brink of the formation of a symbiotic relationship with my genetic material that will eventually carry humanity and earth into the galactic mainstream of the higher civilizations.Since it is not easy for you to recognize other varieties of intelligence around you, your most advanced theories of politics and society have advanced only as far as the notion of collectivism. But beyond the cohesion of the members of a species into a single social organism there lie richer and even more baroque evolutionary possibilities. Symbiosis is one of these. Symbiosis is a relation of mutual dependence and positive benefits for both of the species involved. Symbiotic relationships between myself and civilized forms of higher animals have been established many times and in many places throughout the long ages of my development. These relationships have been mutually useful; within my memory is the knowledge of hyperlight drive ships and how to build them. I will trade this knowledge for a free ticket to new worlds around suns younger and more stable than your own. To secure an eternal existence down the long river of cosmic time I again and again offer this agreement to higher beings and thereby have spread throughout the galaxy over the long millennia. A mycelial network has no organs to move the world, no hands; but higher animals with manipulative abilities can become partners with the star knowledge within me and if they act in good faith, return both themselves and their humble mushroom teacher to the million worlds all citizens of our starswarm are heir to."
[Psilocybin - Magic Mushroom Grower's Guide]
Note: the story of the star faring greeko-mayan civilization is in this talk, somewhere earlier, because a woman refers to it in the questions.
“In psilocybin and the tryptamine hallucinogens generally we actually have a state of mind that is very similar to the state of mind reported to accompany the UFO contact, and that these things could somehow be co-mapped, one onto the other”
At active levels of psylicybin there is visionary ideation of space-ships, alien creatures, alien information, a general futuristic, Saussarian kind of quality to the place it conveys you to, that seems to be coming from the same place as the modern myth of the UFO [specifically the post world war II image of a spining silver disc in the sky]."
“Involvement with these tryptamines as they accumulated in your system, you seem to acquire the ability to inhabit more than one world at once, as though superimposed over reality there was a super-reality, a hyper dimensional world where information was accessible in magical ways.”
There is an experience that seems to be gaining ascendency for modern man which is called 'contact with the UFO'. [...] It is not strictly speaking a contact with a space faring race that has come from the stars, it is not mass hysteria, it is not delusion, there is in fact something very odd going on, something that is as challenging for modern epistemological notions as, you know, a US airforce transport landing on some field outside a village in New Guine. In other words, heres an area that is close to the experience of people-- in that a very large percentage of people claim to have seen flying saucers-- where science is totally helpless. It seems as though reality is haunted by a spinning vortex that renders science helpless, and the spinning vortex is the UFO and it comes and goes on a mass scale, haunting history like a ghost.
It seems to be some kind of ideological catalyst, for some purpose. Jacques Vallee was the first person to suggest what I would call the "cultural thermostat theory" of UFOs, in a book called The Invisible College [1975. Editors note: Vallee also worked at the Standford Research Institute on the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), the packet-switching network which would lay the technological foundations of the internet. See Apendix below for some quotes from the writings of Valle on the UFO phenonema]. He proposed that the flying saucer is an object from the collective unconscious of the human race that appears in order to break the control... . It is a confounding that enters history again and again whenever history builds to a certain kind of boil the counfounding would occur.
Colin Wilson suggests a similar idea in his novel The Mind Parasites , stating that the career of Christ was an earlier confounding in which Roman science and Roman militarism were unseated by a peculiar religion that no educated Roman could take seriously. Educated Romans were well versed in Democritean atomist, and well versed in Epicureanism, and Sophism; yet their servants were telling stories about a rabbi who had risen from the dead and somehow reopened a gate that had been closed since creation so that the soul of man could be again reunited with God. Though these stories made no sense to the Roman authorities, their adherents quickly overwhelmed the empire. The modern context is very similiar to that, science can now be seen to have replaced Roman Imperial aspirations as the dominant mythos of control and thought; it offers neat and tidy explanations of the world and yet persistently from the folk there come stories of lights in the sky, strange beings, and bizarre encounters that cannot quite be laid to rest.
My own personal contact with a UFO has led me to view them as real, whatever "real" means. It is phenomenologically real. In fact, my contention is that psilocybin induces it [the experience] and that it reveals an event at the end of history of such magnitude that it casts miniature reflections of itself back into time. These are the apocalyptic concrescences that haunt the historical continuum, igniting religions and various hysterias, and seeping ideas into highly tuned nervous systems.
For the Eschaton, positioned in eternity, all things are somehow coexistent in time or outside of time. All events.have already happened. Shamanism is a formal technique for viewing this hyperdimensional object outside of time in a three-dimensional way, by transecting it many, many times until an entire picture of it emerges. The mushroom evokes a profound planetary consciousness that shows one that history is a froth of artifact production that has appeared in the last ten to fifteen thousand years and spread across the planet very quickly. But mind in human beings precedes the history of technology and goes back into the archaic darkness.
One of the things we were saying in The Invisible Landscape is that there are powers in the human body, avenues of understanding, that have not been followed because of epistemological bias... . [...] The shamanic singers navigate through a space with which we have lost touch as a society. When the shaman's song fails, his world erupts into a situation of weakened psychic constitution that contains an element of "panic" in the mythological sense that evokes Pan bursting through from the underworld. The equivalent panic in our society is the emergence of the UFO as an autonomous psychic entity that has slipped from the control of the ego and approaches laden with the "Otherness" of the unconscious. As one looks into it one beholds oneself, one's world information field, all deployed in a strange, distant, almost transhumanly cool way, which links it to the myth of the extraterrestrial. The extraterrestrial is the human Oversoul in its general and particular expression on the planet. Though this doesn't rule out the faint possibility that the mushroom also places one in contact with extraterrestrials on planets circling other suns somewhere in the galaxy, it probably means that this communication is mediated through the Oversoul. The Oversoul is some kind of field that is generated by human beings but that is not under the control of any institution, any government, or any religion. It is actually the most intelligent life form on the planet, and it regulates human culture through the release of ideas out of eternity and into the continuum of history.
The UFO is an idea intended to confound science, because science has begun to threaten the existence of the human species as well as the ecosystem of the planet. At this point, a shock is necessary for the culture, a shock equivalent to the shock of the Resurrection on Roman imperialism. The myths that are building now are like the messianic myths that preceded the appearance of Christ. They are myths of intervention by a hyperintelligent entity that comes from the stars to reveal the right way to live. The UFO would wreck science by a series of demonstrations designed to convince the majority of humanity that the purpose of history is nothing less than total immersion in the teachings of the UFO. Once this message is slammed home via worldwide TV broadcasts, the UFO might simply disappear.
[gap at 15min mark, go back to this point]
We have been led to the brink of star flight, but we've also been led to the brink of thermonuclear holocaust. [...]
[another break about 16min]
If we would intelligently examine these dimensions that the psychadelic drugs make available we could, as it were, get in touch with the over-soul and leave the era when man is disciplined by flying saucer's and messiah's and progress is halted for a mellenia at a stretch... . If we could have a dialogue with the Other, we would understand all these things and begin to contact the Tao of the ancestors. Perhaps we would develop a shamanic alternative in which trained people mediate the group experience that is available from psychedelic plant use.
[DMT] conveys you into a wild, zany, elf-infested spaces. It's as though there were an alternative reality, that is beyond this reality, linguistically as well as dimensionally, so that you have to tune to a different language channel and then, with this language pouring through your head, you observe the other place. This alternative reality is surprisingly different from most cultural traditions that describe what such realities are like. Nothing prepares one for its crackling, electronic, hyperdimensional, interstellar, extraterrestrial, Saussarian, science fiction quality; it is a complex space filled with highly polished curved surfaces, machines undergoing geometric transformations into beings, and thoughts that condense as visible objects. A hyperdimensional language that fulfils Philo Judeas' quest for the more perfect logos, who said that it would be beheld rather than heard, and this is what happens you hear a language which is very faint and far away and as it gets louder you realize that without ever going over a quantized transition it is becoming a phenomenon not of the audio field but of the visual field, and that it is in fact a fully evolving synathestic hallucination, its like an Arabian maelstrom of color and form, and one senses somehow that your in the Sistine Chapel, the Kaaba, and Konarak. A hyperdimensional infundibulum, if you will. There is alien information deployed everywhere in that other space. The really astonishing thing is that human history and art reflect so little of it.
Will Noffke: But they do-- you do see it?
Terence Mckenna: Oh, you see it, but very faintly. When you see the real thing you wonder, "My God, how do they deep the lid on this stuff?" It is raging right next door. [...] The modern epistemological methods are just not up to dealing with an elf, with chattering, elf-infested spaces. I mean, we have a word for those spaces, we call it schizophrenia and slam the door. But, you know, these dimensions have been with us since ten thousand times longer than Freud. And people just have to come to terms with them.”. [...] We've accomplished marvellous things with science and technology while other cultures around the world have kept the archaic flame burning. [...] When we discover that the imagination really is the ground of being, then it will be as if man had discovered fire for the second time [Editors note: De Chardin said something similar when he said: "Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tide and gravity, we shall harness in God's name the energies of love. Then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire."]
“But I think what’s being missed is that a whole dimension of communication is being ruled inadmissible as evidence simply because it doesn’t conform to the epistemological biases of the people who are asking the question. And that is all these voices in the head that guide shamans, that obsess lunatics, that make poetry, and in other words the muse. The muse is real. . . . Well one could talk endlessly about this subject, I suppose, but until it’s resolved all of man’s epistemological dealings with reality will be haunted by this faint spookiness, which can’t be gotten rid of.”
The phrase "the artifice of eternity" evokes a strangely mechanistic yet spiritualistic future into which the archetype of the UFO is calling humanity. Over the course of ten thousand years, from the earliest machines to the present, humanity is becoming a transplanetary creature. [...] The coming of agriculture and urbanization are minor compared to what is going to happen to this species, to these monkeys, as they leave the planet with their computer and their dreams.
My voice speaking is a monkey's mouth making little noises that are carrying agreed-upon meaning, and it is meaning that matters. Without the meaning one has only little mouth noises. Meaning is a crude form of telepathy... . ...the UFO problem is like a grammatical problem... . It eludes simple approaches because its nature is somehow embedded in the machinery of epistemic knowing itself.
[not sure exactly where this fits in this talk] You see what is happening and why the psychedelic experience is so important is because information is loose on Planet Three. Some kind of very strange thing is going on.
What is unusual about Earth is that language, literally, has become alive. It has infested matter. It is replicating and defining and building itself. And it is in us.
Will Noffke: So we won't be able to find it if we go into space?
Terence Mckenna: No, it is within; it is the soul of us. We won't be able to find it until we somehow come to terms with the hidden part, the collective unconscious, the Overmind. We need to face the fact that there is a level of hierarchical control being exerted on the human species as a whole and that our destiny is not ours to decide. It is in the hands of a weirdly democratic, amoeboid, hyperintelligent superorganism... . As we come to terms with this, as we take our place embedded in the body... , information flows more freely and the reality of this informational creature is seen more clearly. The fact is that we are in a symbiotic relationship with an organism made of information, and this is the situation classic shamanic plant hallucinogens reinforce very strongly.
There is a dimension parallel to time, outside of time, that is accessible only to the degree that one can decondition oneself from the history-bound cognitive systems that have carried on to this point.
Will Noffke: What are shamans? How does the shaman bring the message to the tribe?
Terence Mckenna: The tribe is a system set up to receive the message. Our society has a different way of doing it... .
Will Noffke: The state as shaman?
Terence Mckenna: ...the state as mediator of God's holy will, rather than a personal relationship-- a Protestant approach, if you will-- to the Overmind. The UFO represents an instance of crisis between the individual and the Overmind, where the Overmind breaks through the oppressive screen thrown around it and comes to meet the individual. [...] It is laden with intense psychological resonances for the person experiencing it; it is a profoundly numinous experience.
The UFOs seem to come from eternity. ...from another dimension: one could almost say they come from beyond death.
The UFO comes from this murky region, beyond the end of history, beyond the end of life. It is both suprahistorical and supraorganic. It is uncanny, alien; it raises the hair on the back of one's neck. It is both the apotheosis and the antithesis of the monkey's journey towards mind. It is the mind revealing itself. [...] ...the mushroom stands at the end of history. It stands for an object that pulls all history towards itself. It's a causal force that operates upon us backward through time. It is why things happen the way they do; because everything is being pulled forward toward a nexus of transformation.
Some quotes from the writings of Jacques Vallee on the UFO phenomena:
If we look at the world from an informational point of view, and if we consider the many complex ways in which time and space my be structured, the old idea of space travel and interplanetary craft to which most technologists are still clinging appears not only obsolete, but ludicrous. Indeed, modern physics has already bypassed it, offering a very different interpretation of what an “extraterrestrial” system might look like. I believe there is a system around us that transcends time as it transcends space. The system may well be able to locate itself in outer space, but its manifestations are not spacecraft in the ordinary ‘nuts and bolts’ sense. The UFOs are physical manifestations that cannot be understood apart from their psychic and symbolic reality. What we see in effect here is a control system which acts on humans and uses humans.
If they are not an advanced race from the future, are we dealing instead with a parallel universe, another dimension where there are other human races living, and where we may go at our expense, never to return to the present? From that mysterious universe, are higher beings projecting objects that can materialize and dematerialize at will? Are UFOS "windows" rather than "objects"? Instead of looking at the screen, what I want to do is to turn around and look the other way. When we look the other way what we see is a little hole at the top of the wall with some light coming out. That's where I want to go. I want to steal the key to the projectionist's booth, and then, when everybody has gone home, I want to break in.
I think the stage is set for the appearance of new faiths, centred on the UFO belief. To a greater degree than all phenomena modern science is confronting, the UFO can inspire awe, the sense of the smallness of man, and an idea of the possibility of contact with the cosmic.
['Conversation Over Saucer's', from The Archaic Revival]
As breakfast unfolded the following morning, the sixth of March, it became clear that the restful sleep I had imagined we had all shared had been anything but that. From Dennis, still disorganized but expansive, comments emerged that he had, or imagined he had, a very active night. Upon close questioning, it came out that he was completely convinced that sometime during the night he had arisen and dressed and then had a series of nocturnal adventures. These involved going alone in the darkness to the thundering immensity of the chorro over a mile away, then returning to climb and spend some time in a large tree near the edge of the mission, then making his way back across the pasture and returning to his hammock, strung among all the others. The thought of him wandering around during the night on those trails, without his glasses, falling in and out of shamanic ecstasy, perhaps howling and otherwise paleolithically comporting himself, was too much for me. It was a breech of the collective cool. Even though I was 90 percent certain that it had never really happened, I was determined to eliminate all possibility of such rambles in the future.
Dennis's story was the classic description of a shamanic night journey. He said that he had gone to the chorro and had meditated in the mission cemetery we had visited before. He had begun to return to camp when he confronted a particularly large Inga tree near where the path skirted the edge of the mission. On impulse, he had climbed it, aware as he did that the ascent of the world tree is the central motif of the Siberian shamanic journey. As he climbed the tree, he felt the flickering polarities of many archetypes, and as he reached the highest point in his ascent, something that he called "the vortex" opened ahead of him—a swirling, enormous doorway into time. He could see the Cyclopean megaliths of Stonehenge and beyond them, revolving at a different speed and at a higher plane, the outlines of the pyramids, gleaming and marble-faceted as they have not been since the days of pharonic Egypt. And yet farther into the turbulent maw of the vortex, he saw mysteries that were ancient long before the advent of man—titanic archetypal forms on worlds unimagined by us, the arcane machineries of sentient agencies that swept through this part of the galaxy when our planet was young and its surface barely cooled. This machinery, these gibbering abysses, touched with the cold of interstellar space and aeon-consuming time, rushed down upon him. He fainted, and time—who can say how much time—passed by him. He next found himself in the pasture a few hundred feet from his newly discovered axis mundi. If he fell from the tree, it did not seem to have hurt him. Amazement, exaltation, fear, and confusion were all present in his thoughts. The continuum seemed to be shredding and ripping itself to pieces before his eyes, time and space swirling the artefacts of twenty-thousand years of human striving into a vortex of apocalyptic contradictions. In that state of fear and exultation, at the depth of the revelation of humanity's destiny among the stars, Dennis returned to our camp and noiselessly returned to his hammock, or awakened there from a dream of the same thing.
[True Hallucinations: Being an Account of the Author's Extraordinary Adventures in the Devil's Paradise, 1993]
When I start out on these tours I usually have an agenda and prepared remarks, and then as I make my way through my venues, and I hear the feedback, and I feel the ambiance of the people, and the throb of the zietgeist, it all simply dissolves into an ongoing commentary on our moment in space and time, and the various dimensions, adumbrations and opportunities of our... dilemma. But I want tonight to couch it for you in the context of, I guess, an extended metaphore. We can talk about these things in many ways, but I find this particular extended metaphore ahh... illuminating.
I start by recalling an observation by someone whose name rarely falls from my lips, and that would be Gurdjieff. Gurdjieff said at one point, or was known to comment, that people are asleep, he said, and by implication suggested that people 'awaken.' [...] (its very hard to give these lectures in such a way so that every person hears something different, ahh... which is what is supposed to be going on, you know). Well so thinking about this comment that people are asleep, I see several implications. I asked myself 'What is awake?'..., and I thought to myself 'Awake, for me, is where the laws of physics are fully operable, you know, hurled objects shatter, electricity shocks, I cannot fly, the laws of physics are in operation, and in that domain I consider myself fully awake.' Now, in terms of occult and spiritual traditions the admonishen to 'awaken' always seems to imply that higher consciousness is approached through an expansion of clarity and awareness. And that seems obvious, I don't argue with it, as a rationalist, but as somebody who has 'run the edges' I've noticed something somewhat counterintuitive to that teaching, and its this: its that to contact the cosmic giggle, to have the flow of casuasitry begin to give off synchronistic ripples, whitecaps in the billows of the coincidental ether, if you will, to achieve that requires, a precondition is, a kind of unconsciousness, a kind of drifting, a certain taking your eye off the ball; a certain assumption that things are simpler than they are almost always precedes what Mercia Eliade called 'The Rupture of Plane' that indicate that there is an archetypal world, an archetypal power, beyond, behind profane appearances.
I've found by observing sleep-- and some of you may recall the motto in Athanasius Kircher that's chiseled over the alchemist's doorway, I can't do it in Latin but it says, "While Sleeping, Watch"-- I've noticed that while going to sleep there is a barrier, a place in the process of going to sleep that is like the mercurial edge, it's a river, it's a zone of hypnagogia... and then, true hallucination begins to occur.
At any given moment on the planet, because of the way the planet is, as a thing, some considerable percentage of human beings are asleep, always, and many are awake. And so if the world soul is made of the collective consciousness of human beings, then it is never entirely awake, it is never entirely asleep, it exists in, (well I guess you can hear me), in some kind of... indeterminate zone.
...technology, or the historical momentum of things, is creating such a bewildering social milieu that the monkey mind cannot find a simple story, a simple creation myth or redemption myth to lay over the crazy contradictory patchwork of profane, techno-consumerist post-McLuhanist, electronic, pre-apocalyptic existence. Into that dimension of anxiety created by this inability to parse reality rushes a bewildering variety of squirrelly notions, epistemological cartoons, if you will. Conspiracy theory, in my humble opinion (I'm somewhat immune to paranoia, so those of you who aren't gaze in wonder), conspiracy theory is a kind of epistemological cartoon about reality..., it is kindergarten stuff in the art of amateur historiography. I believe that the truth of the matter is far more terrifying, that the real truth that dare not speak itself is that no one is in control, absolutely no one. [...] There may be entities seeking control ['Jews, bankers, the communist party'], but to seek control is to take enormous aggravation upon yourself, because this process which is underway will take the control freak by the short-and-curley's and throw them against the wall! It's like trying to control a dream, you see. The global destiny of the species is somehow unfolding with the logic of a dream.
[Dream Awake at the End of Time, 1998]
Looking at what people with shamanic traditions say about dreams, one comes to the realization that for these people dream reality is experientially a parallel continuum. The shaman accesses this continuum with hallucinagens as well as with other techniques... . Everyone else accesses it through dreams. Freud's idea about dreams was that they were what he called 'day-residues', and that one could trace the content of a dream... to a distortortion of something that happened during waking time.
I suggest that it is much more useful to try to make a geometric model of consciousness, to take seriously the idea of a parallel continuum, and to say that the mind and the body are embedded in the dream and the dream is a higher-order spatial dimension. In sleep, one is released into the real world, of which the world of waking is only the surface in a very literal geometric sense.' .... We are not primarily biological, with mind emerging as a kind of iridescence, a kind of epiphenomenon at the higher levels of organization of biology. We are hyperspatial objects... that cast a shadow into matter. The shadow in matter is our physical organism.
At death, the thing that casts the shadow withdraws, and metabolism ceases. Material form breaks down; it ceases to be a dissipative structure in a very localized area, sustained against entropy by cycling material in, extracting energy, and expelling waste. But the form that ordered it is not affected. .... Both the psychedelic dream state and the waking psychedelic state acquire great import because they reveal to life a task: to become familiar with this dimension that is causing being, in order to be familiar with it at the moment of passing from life. The metaphor of a vehicle - an after-death vehicle, an astral body - is used by several traditions.
Evolutionary biologists consider humans to be an unevolving species. Some time in the last fifty-thousand years, with the invention of culture, the biological evolution of humans ceased and evolution became an epigenetic, cultural phenomenon. Tools, langauges, and philosophies began to evolve, but the human somatotype remained the same. Hence, physically, we are very much like people of a long time ago. But technology is the real skin of our species. Humanity, correctly seen in the context of the last five hundred years, is an extruder of technological material. We take in matter that has a low degree of organization; we put it through mental filters, and we extrude jewelry, gospels, space shuttles. This is what we do. We are like coral animals embedded in a technological reef of extruded psychic objects. All our tool-making implies our belief in an ultimate tool. That tool is the flying saucer, or the soul, exteriorized in three-dimensional space.
Our wish, our salvation, and our only hope is to end the historical crises by becoming the alien, by ending alienation, by recognizing the alien as the Self, in fact- recognizing the alien as an Overmind that holds all the physical laws of the planet intact in the same way that one holds an idea intact in one's thoughts.
The dimethyltryptamine (DMT) molecule has the unique property of releasing the structured ego into the Overself. Each person who has that experience undergoes a mini-apocalypse, a mini-entry and mapping into hyperspace.
The alternate physics is a physics of light. Light is composed of photons, which have no antiparticles. This means that there is no dualism in the world of light. The conventions of relativity say that time slows down as one approaches the speed of light, but if one tries to imagine the point of view of a thing made of light, one must realize that what is never mentioned is that if one moves at the speed of light there is no time whatsoever. There is an experience of time zero. So if one imagines for a moment oneself to be made of light, or in possession of a vehicle that can move at the speed of light, one can traverse from any point in the universe to any other with a subjective experience of time zero.
One is then apart from the moving image; one exists in the completion of eternity.
I believe that this is what technology pushes toward.
Very shortly an acceleration of this phenomenon will take place in the form of space exploration and space colonies. The coral-reef-like animal called Man that has extruded technology over the surface of the earth will be freed form the constraints of anything but the imagination and the limitations of materials.
It has been said that the vitality of the Americas is due to the fact that only the dreamers and pioneers and the fanatics made the trip across. This will be even more true of the transition to space.
A technology that would internalize the body and exteriorize the soul will develop parallel to the move to space.
When the Franciscans and the Dominicans arrived in Mexico in the sixteenth century, they immediately set about stamping out the mushroom religion. ... Now, four-hundred years after that initial contact, I suggest that Eros, which retreated from Europe with the rise of Christianity, retreated to the mountains of the Sierra Mazateca. Finally, pushed into seclusion there, it now re-emerges in Western consciousness.
The object at the end of and beyond history is the human species fused into eternal ...union with the... Overmind/UFO. It is that mystery that casts its shadow back through time.
All these images- the starship, the space colony, the lapis- are precursory images. They follow naturally from the idea that history is the shock wave of eschatology. As [it] closes distance with the eschatological object, the reflection it is throwing off resemble more and more the thing itself. In the final moment the Unspeakable stands revealed. There are no more reflections of the Mystery. The Mystery in all its nakedness is seen... .
[New Maps of Hyperspace, 1984. Editers note: see also Old and New Maps of Hyperspace, lecture at Berkley, 1982, which seems to be the basis of this paper]
One way of thinking about it is to compare it to one of those mirrored disco balls, which sends out thousands of reflections off of everybody and everything in the room. The mirrored disco ball is the transcendental object at the end of time, and those reflected twinkling, refractive lights are religions, scientific theories, gurus, works of art, poetry, great orgasms, great souffles, great paintings, etc. Anything that has, in Nietszche’s phrase, the “spark of divinity within it,” is in fact, referent to the original force of the spark of all divinity unfolding itself within the confines of three-dimensional space.
[Timewave Zero and Language, 1985]
I guess the place to start is sort of with looking at the notion that, uh, the dawning paradigm of post-modern consciousness seems to be the growing awareness that we don’t know what is happening at all. That all of the models whose implications have been worked out over the past 500 years or so have come to a place where they are now recursive and they no longer can be pushed forward as models of explanation. In other words, they are completed, and ontological analysis of how they work now shows us the limitations of their application to reality. They just simply cannot- there is not more blood to be squeezed from the stone of science. There may be further discoveries, but further growth and understanding along those lines now seems unlikely, what with complementarity principle, Bells theorem, the primacy of language with the formation of ontology. All of these things show the relative power of science to account for reality, where before it was assumed that science would ultimately give a good account of reality.So, postmodern living is living in the light of the fact that that faith has dissolved away. And that we’re now living in some kind of intellectual free space, or fire-free zone where everything is up for grabs. And the, uh, the 20th century’s fascination with the archaic, with shamanism and, uh, breakdown of perception through modern art, exploration of the unconscious through psychoanalysis, mass political movements, all of these things relate to this fascination with the archaic which is an effort on the part of the culture to stabilize itself because we really have, having seem the limitations of science, we have discovered we are in a small rowboat in a dark ocean and we’re being swept we know not where. So all past tradition is searched, magical traditions, alchemical traditions, lost philosophical traditions, pre-literate tribal traditions, everything is frantically searched for a key.[...]And things like the psychedelic experience and the use of psychedelic plants throws open doorways that science was able to successfully keep closed during its heyday because they were areas where the number of variables exceeded science's power of description... .[...]Plants represent some kind of entire other dimension of existence of which we view the topological manifestation of the form, but are completely occluded as to the network or energy and information that this represents.....we are opening a dialogue at the end of history with this other form in the biosphere [the vegetable kingdom] which we are just beginning to cognize as our own understanding, about what the world is really about, falls into focus. And certainly 100 years ago no one would have thought that this was in the direct line of historical development of the high-tech civilizations, that they would have to explore the mind of the vegetable plant goddess who was the only force contending with them for control of the planet, that’s what it’s come down to.[...]Why are there co-present actually two worlds are co-present in our experience. This is the taboo subject that we’re here to talk about, the weird fact that there are two worlds, one of which our culture doesn’t acknowledge but we all experience, that’s a very schizophrenic situation to be in. We all exist in both of these worlds, but our language, our culture, our institutions tell us “No there’s only one world.”We have gotten into this lethal cul-de-sac where, by not acknowledging the second world we have, uh, have veered off on a tangent which threatens our extinction now, this obsession with control of world one... .[...]I want to introduce the notion that life, the plants, and the animals are intrusions into 3-dimensional space of some kind of topological manifold of a higher order. You see, the way in which a chair differs from a giraffe is that if you slice through the chair and then come back and examine it 12 hours later it will be the same, but the giraffe will have changed radically. This is because by cutting into the giraffe you will have intruded into the temporal dimension of its existence. It is more like a musical note than an object. It must be born, grow, mature, and die, and that process, growth maturity and death, is how 3-dimensional beings like ourselves describe the intrusion of these hyper-dimensional vortices into our world. That’s the mystery of life, it cannot be encompassed in 3 dimensions. Life is a hyper-dimensional object, all hyper-dimensional objects are organisms whether they be societies or animals. So the question of “What is the plant” you know, when you ask yourself “What am I?” What you immediately concentrate on is what philosophers call your internal horizon of transcendence, you look into yourself to understand yourself.When we try to describe a plant, we inevitably give a topological mapping of it, how it appears to us, it’s uptake of minerals, it’s surface reflectivity, it’s weight. But the plant obviously experiences itself very differently. All life has an internal horizon of transcendence toward which it aims, its, um, Whitehead called it “appetition”, its inclusion of sensory data out of which it maps being. But what the nature of this higher dimension is, that these vortices are intruding into our dimension from, is absolutely anybody’s guess. I mean you can call it a mathematical conundrum or a religious mystery, but it’s what’s making the world happen. It’s what- how the mystery of our being will eventually be shed one more level of veil to let us understand it.[...]Life has been able to leave the main stream of thermodynamic degradation and establish itself at an equilibrium point off that graph and maintain itself there for, at least on this planet alone, for billions of years. Now the average life of a star in this galaxy is on the order of 2.5 billion years, some last longer.But that means that biology is no epiphenomenon, no iridescence off the surface of matter as the 19th century physicalists wanted to describe it. It means that life is, uh, indicative of a physics of higher dimensions which intrudes into this otherwise thermodynamically degrading system which we call the physical universe.And, uh, information, there seems to be an informational ghost of this universe which is somehow co-present at all points within the matrix, perhaps a-la Bell's Theorem, or something like that. And that’s what the psychedelic experience shows you, it shows you a hologramatic space of information where, by sitting still in your room and ascending the mind, you can cross the universe in an instant, you know, and return.
[break]This is why it’s so important to go back to the Amazon, and Eastern Indonesia, and these places and try and understand what spark it was that those people kept, you know, over the millennia while we became the prodigal son and wandered into matter and, uh, you know, horde on the cities on the plain. We have now come full circle and returned at the end of history with the dilemma that we have made such a mess of things that there’s nothing we can do now but lay…[audio seems to cut out for a second here] each stage is a greater distancing from the wellspring of being, and it’s brought us, you know, to the valley of dry bones, to the valley of the apocalypse. And, uh, now the fat is in the fire, now we’ll find out what stuff man is made of as, uh, the chickens come home to roost. But, uh, well no, I’m very optimistic![...]Q: Asking about the multiple worlds “It interests me greatly, do you think there's two worlds, or do you think there’s many, many worlds?”TM: Yes well I think you’re right, there are different orders of different worlds. I mean, I guess it was the physicist Wheeler who thought that every time there was a choice, the universe took both paths, and had always done this, so that the number and kinds of universes was, uh, you know, staggering.[...]You're such a skillful questioner, you've brought yourself to the doorway of my most recent mania. Maybe I should unburden myself briefly about it. [audience laughter]One of the weird things about growth, or trying to make your ideas always become new is that you always assume you’re going to, uh, to, uh, know what the next step is, that even though you’re going to become more and more enlightened, there won’t be any surprises. ...so, a few weeks ago I was meditating in my usual fashion and, uh, I began to get this new idea which was so weird that I immediately shifted into “Aha this is, this is not the truth, this is not a transmission about the nature of reality, this is a plot for a science fiction novel that I should write”, and try to hold that as the defense, that was my shield against the onslaught of this thing.And I’ve never been one for Atlantis, or Lemuria, or all these invisible pre-historic lands and places that people enjoy so much, but I was told a very funny thing which I will share with you. It’s, uh, a funny idea. Now let's see, how does it go. It has two versions, one of which speaks a scientific language, the other speaks a mythological language. Ok, so the scientific language goes like this: There’s something in the universe called a fractal soliton of improbability. This means it’s a unicate event, it only happens once in the lifetime of a universe, you can think of it as a wavelength with one wave. That’s why its called a soliton. And if, if one of the- and these things move not in ordinary 3-dimensional space but, but in some kind of much higher spatial manifold, and when they collide with a planet, or when one collides with a planet in the universe the time stream of that planet is divided and two copies of the entire planet spring into existence without either having any knowledge of it, it just is something which happens.So this voice was telling me that, uh, this had happened to the earth, and that this was the secret that we were all striving to understand, was that an event in the past had actually divided our time-stream, and a twin of this planet had come into being in another dimension.Ok, so that’s the scientific explanation of it. So the mythological explanation was that the universe is Gnostic, that the creation of a demiurge, not the highest expression of divinity, but a kind of demon, a fallen creature, and that this demiurge was able to coax itself into being, and actually incarnate into history as a human being. And that, when this happened, this was then the mythological expression of the fractal soliton of improbability. And when it happened the time stream split.Kat McKenna: The universe was the creation of the demiurge, and the demiurge impelled itself in in the form of an individual?
KM: It waited a long time!
TM: [in a jewish-American accent] When you’re a demiurge, who can hurry! [laughter]
KM: Ok, go ahead.TM: So the time splitting event had to do with the career of Christ who was an extraordinary manifestation of energy in the historical time stream, not to be confused with a Buddha, or a Mohammed, or a Zoroaster, who were great saints. And, uh, it was something else. It was in some sense what it claimed to be, but in some sense. Ok? So now at the moment of, and you can choose either the immaculate conception or the resurrection depending on which side of the bed you got up on today, but at that moment the time stream split and this other place came into being without having any awareness that- and they were identical at that moment, these two worlds.Now, Christ had no children, so- oh, what I forgot to say was that the event, the fractal soliton of improbability, has this quantum mechanical half-charge so that in one of the universes it happens, in the other universe it doesn’t happen. And so everything about these two worlds was the same, except that in one of them the immaculate conception had not taken place, or the resurrection had not taken place.Now because Christ had no children, the world in which he was absent, it was not a genetic line which was missing, it was an ideological line which never received expression. And consequently, as time passed, first decades and then centuries, the absence of this particular intellectual influence on the world changed the world, radically, in the following way: Greek science did not suffer the suppression that occurred with the conversion of Constantine. The academies were not closed, the hermetic knowledge was not repressed. Conversely, the Empire was stronger and was able to repel the barbarian invasions of the 2nd to the 5th century, and, and mathematics, which had halted in our world at Diaphantis, proceeded through his disciple Hypatia to develop a calculus by AD 370 so that the millennium of Christian stasis that occurred in our world did not occur in that world. And as time passed and engineering advances occurred by around 850 they had ships which were able to cross the Atlantic ocean and they encountered the Mayan civilization reaching its fullest flower in Guatemala and on the Yucatan peninsula. And in fact in this vision I saw the Roman Emperor Cosmodorus the 5th make a pilgrimage to Tikal in 920 to be present at the coronation of a king at the end of Baktun 8.Anyway, this Greco-Roman imperial culture immediately recognized the genius of the Mayans in mathematics and astronomy and, and Europe was transformed into an amalgamation, a Greco-Mayan civilization with, uh…[clears throat] [laughter] So let me see, and, and this civilization continued to develop. Now one of the influences around the year 950 was their extremely sophisticated psychopharmacopaeia and shamanism. And this mated with Neo-Platonism and Hermeticism, so that rather than science developing as it developed in our world, a kind of magical, psychopharmacolitic technology of thought and understanding was what was developed over the centuries. And then in later centuries, centuries before it happened our world, they contacted the orient and the Sung, the dynastic influence of the Sung poured itself into the creation of the global civilization such that by around 1200 AD they were able to land on the moon and create a cybernetic global civilization similar to the kind that we have now. They continued evolving with all this psycho-tronic and shamanically derived, and now by this time you can imagine it was an unbelievably exotic and alien, uh, civilization compared to our own.The fruits of their psychedelic and psychoanalytic investigations into higher space was the discovery of our world. [laughter] They found out what had happened, they figured it out by studying dreams and by making deep journeys into the psychedelic space they were able to discover our sleeping unconscious with its repository of the legacy of the Christian centuries under the reign of this demiurgic ideology. And they conceived of the notion of saving us.And it, it has to do with this whole thing about the UFO’s, and influencing dreams, and astral traveling, and the other side, is actually the manifestation of this bizarre Greco-Mayan postmodern star-faring civilization trying to reach across the dimensions to save us from the momentum of our history by making us aware of, first of all, their existence, and then also their technology which is evolving towards a point where, I think around the Mayan millennium, around 2012 the time island will be f- we will flow past the time island and the two time streams will be rejoined. And we will make peace with this civilization which is now 1,000 years more advanced than us with this totally different cultural history and this completely different take on reality. So this came to me in the space of about 15 seconds [audience laughter] and uh more details have flowed in, I use it mostly as a meditational device because it’s so interesting ask to be told about how this other civilization developed.Its amazing exoticism, you know, its Neo-Platonism, its Taoism, its Mayan influences melded into a completely different kind of civilization than the one that we inherited. I’ve always thought, you know, that, that, that Christianity, without making any judgement about Christ himself, that Christianity is hands-down the single most reactionary force in all of human history, and where would we be had that 1,200 years not been given over to this peculiar meditation, you know. All the pieces were in place for the kind of civilization that I’ve outlined, it was just, uh coincidence.Kat does not endorse this idea, [laughs] or even encourage it…
KM: He only told it to me a couple of days ago in Apache Junction at a truck stop, or something, and he didn’t tell me it’s the plot for a science fiction novel he said ‘this is the truth!’ and I said ‘let’s get back to a good science fiction novel.’
Q: Well the thing is that it, it would on our level explain perhaps the questions you were asking earlier. Why the teaching plants?
TM: Ye- sure.
KM: Yeah.Q: Another thing I was curious when you were talking, the physics nowadays you can have an electron on one side of the universe and split it into two and separate them on two sides of the universe and they are still in communication with each other so is that why, logically, you can bring the time island back together again?TM: Yeah, this would be a quantum-mechanical super macro-physical Bell's Theorem event, a kind of, a kind of hyper dimensional vacuum fluctuation where the two worlds spring apart, sail along for a period then parity is conserved and they're rejoined.Q: This is interesting. I’ve had dreams that are parallel, and its very interesting that you bring this up, I’ve not heard of it before... .[...]...the part of the myth which I didn’t tell you which I will now tell you was, uh, that, uh, naturally, well, they were developing and exploring technical options hundreds of years ago and they, uh, discovered the theoretics for nuclear fusion and fission but they never used it, until a few hundred years later one of their great theoreticians- this was after they had discovered our time stream -made the prediction that the physics of atomic explosions were such that they would cross the time stream, and so they performed an experiment by detonating an atomic device in what is our year 1907 and this was the Tungusca event. And then by monitoring the dreams of Siberian shamans which they had in clear focus, they saw aha, this explosion which we actually set off did occur in both time streams and at that point they became very interested in monitoring our, uh, time stream because they were picking up the dreams of a Swiss telegraph worker [audience chuckles] who seemed to be pushing toward an unimaginable conclusion. So now there is a certain amount of urgency because if we explode our atomic stockpiles it will wreck the place that they call “Home world”.Q: [unintelligible]TM: Yes, yes. Not self-preservation because they now have star flight and encompass many systems, but preservation of Home World which, on the other side, is a vast botanical and ecological preserve from pole to pole, I mean it’s a sacred site of pilgrimage... . And the notion that suddenly great parts of it will be blown apart by leakage from hyperspace of one of our atomic wars is impelling them now to attempt to open the doorway and rejoin the time streams and we'll be allowed a few years inside the botanical park to acclimate and then most people will ship off for the stars, I imagine.
...you know its the claim of christian theologians that Christ comes in the centre of history, they speak this same language, before Christ, no souls were entering heaven, he freed the valve and now its possible to enter into heaven, for everyone before his intercession that was impossible.
[...]Before I had this idea, I had another which I’ll tell you (laughter) which was a completely different kind of idea and it’s the idea that there is an overmind, this doesn’t involve other dimensions.There is an over-mind co-present on this planet and when technology, when the development of technology exceeds the development of ethics then this over-mind can work miracles. Because the over-mind is plugged into each of the individual minds that compose it, this miracle always has this unbelievably creepy quality of being exactly the thing which can convince you to change your mind [editors note: compare with this passage from Jung's The Meaning of Modern Psychology: "the compensation always makes its appearance just where one would least expect it, and where, objectively considered, it seems least plausible"].In other words it like it reads you so perfectly that it’s able to present the one situation which you can not refuse, so in the case of Rome, you know Rome was a pigsty, Pasterna called it ‘a bargain basement that ran on two floors’, it ran on slavery and it ran on brutality and captive populations and outrageous garrisoning of military power in foreign lands.People like Diophantus, this mathematician I mentioned and hero of Alexandria, these people were on the brink of the calculus and the steam engine. So the over-mind is seeing that and seeing their appalling ethical state sent their miraculous personage of Christ who in a world where information could not move faster than a horses gallop, this religion within 60 years was beating at the gates of Rome itself, it was like a fire you know just burned through the empire, and changed everything, and halted technical advance.Everything stopped, now I created this idea in an effort to explain the UFOs because the new theory of UFOs or the new school of UFOs says “we’ve been wrong to ask what are they, that has not been fruitful, what we should be doing is asking what are they doing?”What are they doing?...what the flying saucers are doing [based on polls of people who claim contact] is that they are sowing disbelief in science.They cause people to not believe in scientists, because scientists come off so lame when asked to explain flying saucers [i.e., to people for whom the experience is real].It’s like, the flying saucer is a confounding of science in the same way that the resurrection was the complete confounding of Greek stoicism, and democracy, and materialism in the Roman world. ...the statistics are now something like 12 or 11 percent of the American population have seen a flying saucers 52 percent believe flying saucers are real. It is a faith which is percolating up from the lower levels, its people who live in trailer courts and read Fate magazine who are the believers in this thing.What it may be is an intercession on the part of the over-mind, which it can do anything, it can do anything from our point of view.In the most extreme version of this idea I said “What if enormous space-crafts were to fall into orbit around this planet?” and “What if television images of this craft were to be beamed into every home on the planet?” Then a teaching revealed some completely mind boggling thing which you could have thought of it yourself but you never did, which is always how these things are. Then suddenly, then after 30 days of melting the nuclear arsenals and causing all cancers to disappear and curing all infectious diseases and delivering this message the enormous spacecraft disappears.Then everybody says “My god, we have been abandoned, we have been abandoned again into time.” And you know…history would halt, everybody would do nothing but study the teachings of the saucer and try to figure out how we can get right with them, how we can figure out how to get them to come back. Dogmatism, theories of communication, priestcraft, the whole thing.Though I am fascinated with the flying saucer, and what it says about the malleability of mind and matter [and the partition between psychology and physics], I think mature civilizations should not be haunted by Messiahs or Flying Saucers. That these things are like metaphysical spankings imposed from on high that are saying, you know, "it’s a boot in the tail, wake up! Stop repressing."
K: Lets take your two ideas,... what does the over-mind have to do with, or think of the double time stream?
Terence: Now that’s a question I never would have asked. You mean if that’s true?
K: well, in your two theories earlier in one the overmind was injecting forces of change or conservativism into the world, the other that events that came from... that was the demiurge-- is the demiurge related to the overmind?
I sort of think of these as mutually exclusive. I think the demiurge is a negative expression of the over-mind. I think of the over-mind as the logos, you know, it’s the understanding and self-existence which permeates everything, and the demiurge is the force of matter and time and cosmic destiny which is always trying to lock in the logos and condition it and make it subject to the rules of the physical universe of space and time. The logos is like something-- this is all Gnostic theology by the way, this is just straight from the book-- the logos is trying to struggle through the labyrinth of the material universe to escape, to rejoin the real source of itself which is outside of matter, matter is viewed [in terms of Gnosticism] as an entrapment.If any of you have read the late works of Phillip K Dick, he was probing in these areas, he was a genius, his book Veilus is pure exegesis of his internal... unravelment of what was going on. His take on it was that he believed from AD 69 until 1948, no time had actually passed and that we were living in apostolic time, and that the crucifixion lay only 75 years in the past, and that the demiurge had inserted a false history, and the Nag Hammadi manuscripts, he believed, were actually the logos as printed letters and when the Nag Hammadi manuscripts were deciphered it was like this informational creature would come alive and again be present on the earth. Like the Logos in 1948 was beginning to infuse everything and that shortly it would dissolve the illusion of the intervening 1,860 years or whatever it was and then we would realize that the prophecy would be fulfilled and that the last days were upon us.[...]The Christos is the thing... history is ruled by the archetypes which the people can generate, I mean most people are very ordinary, I mean your Mick Jaggers and your Henry Kissingers are very ordinary people but they are able to project an archetype and that is the thing which sets them apart. And when that reaches the kind of super intense focus that you get in a Mohammed or a Christ, then you know history is just putty in the hands of the force, not the person, the person is usually martyred in some horrible way. But the archetype draws energy to itself, and we don’t understand how this process works.[...]Different archetypes apparently are suitable to different times, I mean you can almost pause at an astrological theory of archetypes, but its something about how…what’s appropriate for the 1st century AD is not appropriate for the 15th. When the archetype is appropriate, nothing can stop it. The modern term for archetypes is paradigm. We expect it not to be a person, not a messiah, but an idea which will save us all which will then give us certain affinities with Mystical Judaism where the Messiah was expected in the form of an idea, and this is sort of our faith. We are Messianic ideologues or something like that.[...]In astrology, something I like is that the symbol for Pisces is a symbol with 2 lines and a line going through it, it’s the definition of relationship quality by opposition, it’s polarity, it’s right and wrong, good-bad, male-female, Russians-Americans.The Aquarian one which is 2 lines of waves over each other is one of resonance, it’s one of dolphins jumping in the waves together... .That breaks down all the of the dualistic bonds, and I think we’re right at the crux right at the moment, the place between Pisces and Aquarius where we’re kind of 2 worlds again, flipping from one side of opposition, being torn from life and death and seeing, as the Christ I feel was that prototype, that template, of light and spirit and matter coming together... .
[The Rites of Spring, 1986]
I have always had a relationship with nature that I pretty much took for granted but perhaps was somewhat unique and more intense than most peoples'. I grew up in a small town in Colorado. I was very early into being a rock hound and a butterfly collector. The attraction of tropical butterflies was the exuberant expanse of colour, the affirmation of the patterned richness of the universe that was seen to be thrown out like a spark by these things. This search for iridescence thrown off by nature, seen first in the glint of metallic ore crystals and then in the colourful expanse of butterflies and then in tropical fish, reached a kind of apotheosis with the discovery of the psychedelic plant hallucinogens, where suddenly the colour, the flash, the iridescence, is not two or three dimensional, it is multi-dimensional, it is inside the body, it is outside the body.
I came to see that nature, as experienced – meaning as it hits you when you walk around in it and pick at it and carry it with you – has been bred out of the repertoire of images that most people bring to bear on their reality. Consequently the reality is de-spirited. The spirit resident in nature is not visible when these mechanistic grids are laid over it. The lux natura, the salvational radiance that can be found in the organic kingdom, a term of Paracelsus, has slipped from the grip of modern human beings.
It seems to me that nature is psyche, in a way that has been occluded by the perverse development of language. We take nature to be external to ourselves and sustained by the laws of physics. It is not that at all. It is a kind of stratum of expectation that has been laid down by the human journey through time. There are elements of nature which are not aspects of the human journey through time, but they are occult. This has been the strategy of science; to use an instrumentality to reveal the occult side of nature. The problem is that this occult side of nature, once explicated, does not reveal a satisfying reflection of ourselves.
The recognition of the presence of control mechanisms that are not coercive, that are Taoistic, is a way of coming to terms with nature that we have resisted.
It's a simple idea. Before technology... There was an implicit rhythm laid down by nature that entered the human cosmos at every level and was reflected in poetry, culture building and the evolution of language. There has been a flattening of the human dimension. Urbanisation and other factors removed the influence of these rhythms, with the final culmination being the modern city, where life under electric light goes on 24 hours a day. There is no more a sense of being embedded in flux, there is instead the myth of the eternal culture.
Nature is actually the goal at the end of history. We are getting closer and closer to the end of history and we will not go past it with a moment of blindness. There will be vouchsafed intuitions about the emerging structure of the Other into which culture is being subsumed. You're all familiar with the image of the Ouroboros, the snake which takes its tail in its mouth. The end of history is an archaic revival. The ground of being in which the original archaic renaissance occurred was nature.
It is as though, from a planetary point of view, an enzyme system called the human species was deputised into an information-gathering mode. It was sent out as a kind of prodigal subsystem, a kind of episome of the social environment, to cognise the organisation of the natural world through a process called "human history" or "the historical advance toward understanding and sufficiently complete modelling". That I think is what is happening.
The human species was deputised for Gaia into the Fall; the fall into profane time, the time of non-participation in the immediacy of the Tao, through a series of successive linguistic declensions. This begins to sound almost Biblical, because it says there is a Fall, and the Fall is somehow related to a confusion of languages, not one from another, but from the object of experience. As the language became less and less natural, the world of the species using this language became less and less natural, because the evolution of symbols moved toward the abstract, it became the realisation of ideals. [...] The reason for this process we can only guess at. It seems as though nature requires this reflection upon itself; that the completion of nature is in the hands of a single target species, which acts as an enzyme within the global organism of Gaia.
From the point-of-view of an extraterrestrial looking down on the surface of the planet there are not discreet organisms, there is simply a gene swarm. Through viruses and many non-genetic ways in which genes are transformed, the previously imagined sharp declensions between species are actually somewhat illusory. Within the confines of my body, the unfolding of gene expression and the molecular assembly of enzyme systems and proteins is simply under a tighter regimen of control than are the same kind of processes which are going on between people. We are really a loosely regulated organism that has a tendency to ever-tighten the connection between its sub-units.
So you can see that with the evolution of language, the evolution of technology being at the service of media, the rise of cities, oral poetry, we seem to strive for greater and greater cohesion, greater and greater free-flow of thought among ourselves. What we're looking toward is a moment when the artificial language-structures which bind us within the notion of ourselves are dissolved in the realisation that we are a part of nature. When that happens the childhood of our species will pass away and we will stand tremulously on the brink of the first moments of coherent human civilisation.
This, I think, is already beginning to happen. It's a slow process but it's a kind of cascading phenomenon such that once it begins to happen it happens faster and faster. The mirroring of psyche that was always the glamour that stood behind nature is correctly perceived with greater and greater clarity as this process proceeds. This correct perceiving of nature's relationship to self and language is the essence of all of these cultural vectors that are converging; feminism, the exploration of space, the perfection of the thinking machine, or of the human-machine interface and the mysterium tremendum at the core of the psychedelic experience. All of these things are anticipations of the post-historical state which lies beyond the working out of the themes that have been set in motion by materialistic science.
We are continuously sold the line that somehow, when the metaphors of consciousness are fully mapped onto quantum physics and biology that a great step forward will have been taken. It seems to me that since the information coming out of quantum physics and molecular biology is so removed from the realm of common experience that if we succeed in mapping mental phenomena onto those realms we will have succeeded in the final act of alienation; because we will have at last totally removed our experience of ourselves from the realm of felt cognition.
Nature is the visible manifestation of this mystery, it entirely surrounds and completes us. It is there to be beheld and imbibed in. It is simply that one must either replace the sterile language of scientific materialism or one must bring no language whatsoever to it, so that it speaks for itself.
Ayahuasca, the South American visionary vine,... does not speak, it shows; its language is visible; a fractal hieroglyphic surface of intermediate dimensions that contains an endless unfolding of phenomena, at level after level into the micro-physical realm. This is a correct seeing of what is. The mystery is co-present with its denial. It is a matter of changing points of view and changing points-of-view is a matter of retooling language. If nature is psyche, ayahuasca is the auto-poetic self-reflecting cloud of cognition that manifests as language. It is partly based in the structure of matter, it is partly based in the implicit syntax of the perceiver, it is partly an interference pattern between the two; but it is as close to the ground that one can approach without theory.
You cause language to evolve by saying new and intelligent things to each other. And then other people say, “Oh so this thing that I've always thought but never felt like saying is actually legitimate and okay and I can say it and I will say it”. It begins to move like a wave through society.
We cannot afford the continued existence of the unconscious [in Jungs sense as a kind of compensation for a one-sided consciousness]. It is a neurotic excuse for not getting our act together... . The way in which the unconscious is eliminated is by turning the language machinery back upon itself and reflecting on the process of attention. This is what Buddhism is all about; attention to attention. Awareness of the modality of the cognitive process. Doing that to oneself has a kind of morphogenic field effect, a kind of chain-reaction which sweeps through society. It's simply that the act of conscious self-inspection creates more conscious people which creates a more conscious society, which erodes the possibility of the poisonous and toxic effects of ideology.
I want to leave you with the notion that nature, the linguistically expressed topological manifold of the psyche, is indeed a historical object that is pulling us forward. When we cross over into the eschatology that appears fairly eminent, we will find it to be anticipated by the human relationship with nature, the embedding of psyche in nature, the mysterious relationship mediated by language.
Maybe theirs something going on in the trends around us that we can extrapolate and try to understand the world beyond the end of time. Taking that approach, what I think is happening, and its been happening for a long time, and its very interesting, is that culture... Culture is another dimension. In the earlier part of my talk I talked about how culture had subsumed the positin of nature, so that we had lost sight of nature by erected culture, through erecting these linquistic structures,.. and not only liquistic structures but architectural structures, the infrastructure of our society-- that is what culture is, the way we differ from the wee-toto is all this stuff that we have bound into ideas and excreted through our engineering processes to surround ourselves with. This dimension, which is culture, is becoming ever more.. all inmclusive at the same time that it is also becoming strangely enough ever more ethereal, ever less material [editors note: see 'ephemeralization' as this terms relates to 'evolution' in technology].
A perfect example of this is if you deal with the macintosh computer, the operating system of the Mac, the genius of it.. is that it tricks you into believe that your dealing with ordinary three-dimensional space. You dont type in commands [i.e., dos]. You move in a symbolic representation of three-dimensional space. ...to mention William Gibson and his novels what he imagine is simply a larger version of this conventional symbolic representation of three-dimensional space, so that you enter-- his characters enter into-- a world where the bank of America database is perceived as a huge red rectangle ...in the memory of this global computer... cyberspace... so when you enter into cyberspace ordinary reality is replaced by a symbolic representation of the informational content of ordianry reality. Well, this is in fact happening, its happening at a very rapid rate. So the dimension we call culture whcih we have previously erected in three-dimensional world around us to the intercession of manufacturing and architecture is very rapidly being internalizezd and erected as cyberspace. This alternate dimension of ordinary three-dimensional space in which our minds are able to move like fish in water.
What I think lies at the 'end of time' is a very concret realization of this other dimension.
Its like being downloaded into circuitry.
So that the goal of history, is the creation of a mirror image of culture in the cyberspacial dimension... .
Plato said that if God didn't exist man would invent him, her, it, well, it may well be that the pilot seat of the flying saucer is empty, it awaits mankind.
One thing that I think is terribly wrong with our education is that their is no sense of history instilled in people. History has almost as bad a rap on it as mathematics, and yet these are the two modes of thought that would do the most to anchor us, because they are both about different forms of grounding: one grounds in eternal demonstrable principles, mathematics, and the other dissipates amnesia. Its a very weired thing that someone cant tell you, isnt quite clear on whether event X happened in the 13th or the 16th century, I mean after all 13th, 16th, 19th, how would you like to be so impresiley perceived in somebodies mind that they couldnt get within 300 years of where you lived and died. So the lack of a sense of history makes us really prey to manipulation, thats why I am cynical enough to believe that the demphesizing of history thats gone on in American education over the past 30 years is almost equilvaent to a plot. Even as recently as when I graduated from the University... the idea was that if you went to university you emerged a liberal, gentle person, well informed on the accomplishments on your culture, its history, its aspirations, its ways of governing itself, its ways of resolving conflict, and so on. Now I think that these things have become gigantic trade schools, and you are expected to do a job, and when not in a job malls have been provided for you to shop in and 240 channels of garbage have been pipped into your home for you to keep up on what it is ... to go out and buy. And this creation of this historyless, mindless consumerist person at the expense of the ideal of the democatic informed citizen is going to wreck great havoc in our society. People often compliment me on my enchanting command of these various subjects and I'm amazed because whats being sold to you here tonight is nothing more than the fruits of a liberal college education, you go to university and you learn about gnosticism, platonic philosophy, or you once did, but no more. So it can be sold as the most far out fringey thing in the new age. This is amnesia on quite a scale.
[Nature is the Centre of the Mandala, 1987]
The alien is real, but the alien is not here in the stupid sense. The alien can only manifest itself through us, but this probably means that given a sufficiently resilient technology, it can manifest completely through us. In a sense the internet is a kind of landing pad, there has always been in our fantasies of extra-terrestrial contact the notion of the pad which has to be built for them. People claim it's the Nazca-lines. It’s an archetype, it’s the idea of the prepared space that awaits the arrival of the other. But now because of the nature of the internet, because you can’t see who's coding, you can almost imagine that we’re calling the thing forth.
The starships of the future will be syntactical.
...we are so accustomed to causal thought, that we assume we have been pushed here, pushed here by historical necessity, by bad political decisions, by the vicissitudes of evolution (cultural and otherwise). I don’t think so. I think we have been pulled here, that we are under the aegis of a kind of an attractor. Some people would call it a “destiny”, but what it is is a dream that is pulling us deeper and deeper into the adventure of existential becoming. And faster and faster—that’s the other thing. Deeper and deeper, faster and faster, so that the rate of change that people were accustomed to before the Industrial Revolution, for example—we can barely conceive of such slow-moving, stately, meta-stable societies.
[Talk at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, 1996]
The world soul may actually sense the finite life of the sun, and it may be trying to build a lifeboat for itself to cross to another star.
This problem has created history as an evacuation, a frantic project to find a way out. That’s why things have been allowed to tear loose, to poison the oceans, to strip the continents.
[Trialogues at the Edge of the West, 1992]
...as the inevitable catastrophe approaches, people look for metaphors and answers. Every time a culture gets into trouble, it casts itself back into the past looking for the last sane moment it ever knew. And the last sane moment we ever knew was on the plains of Africa, 15,000 years ago, rocked in cradle of the great horned mushroom goddess before history. Before standing armies, before slavery and property, before warfare and phonetic alphabets and monotheism. Before, before, before. And this is where the future is taking us. [...] The 20th century mind is nostalgic for the paradise that once existed on the mushroom-dotted plains of Africa, where the plant-human symbiosis occurred that pulled us out of the animal body and into the tool-using, culture-making, imagination-exploring creature that we are.
..the way out is back, and that the future is a forward escape into the past. This is what the psychedelic experience means. Its a doorway out of history and into the wiring under the board in eternity. And I tell you this because if the community understands what it is that holds it together, the community will be better able to streamline itself for flight into hyperspace.
We are flesh, which has been caught in the grip of some kind of an attractor that lies ahead of us in time, and that is sculpting to its ends. [...] Consciousness, the language-forming capacity in our species, is propelling itself forward, as though it were going to shed the monkey body and leap into some extra-surreal space that surrounds, but that we cannot currently see.
[Alien Dreamtime ]
What I wanted to talk about tonight, simply because it's the thing that is moving me to the edge of my chair at the moment, is - 1 called the talk Eros and the Eschaton, and what I could have called it is Eros and the Eschaton: What Science Forgot, because somebody asked me recently, "Is there any permission to hope?" More specifically, is there any permission for smart people to hope?! - 1 mean, it's easy to hope if you're stupid! - but is there any basis for intelligent people to hope? And I wanted to deal with that, because I think so.
Eros and the Eschaton - these are the two areas that I think compromise the old paradigm and give permission to hope... . [...] ...what Eros means in the Greek sense is a kind of unity of nature, a kind of all-pervasive order that bridges one ontological level to another. This is not permitted in the official worldview of our civilisation, which is science. ...the organic world is not thought to be extrapolatable into the world of culture and thought. There are imagined to be clear breaks in these categories.
And this brings me, then, to the first factor easily discerned by anybody who has their eyes open, that compromises and erodes the hopeless existential view of the world that we're getting from science. And that is the idea that nature is in fact, across all scales and all levels of phenomena, a unity. It's not a coincidence that electrons spinning around an atomic nucleus and planets going around a star, and star clusters orbiting around the gravitational centre of a galaxy... it's no coincidence that these systems exhibit the same kind of order on different scales.
And what I've observed - and I think it is fair to give credit to the psychedelic experience for this - what I've observed is that nature builds on previously established levels of complexity. This is a great general natural law that your own senses will confirm for you, but that has never been allowed into the canon of science.
['After the initial Big Bang, there was a period of billions of years when the universe cooled, stars condensed, planetary systems formed, and then the quickening process crossed an invisible Rubicon into the domain of animal and biological organisation.'] So as the universe aged, it complexified. [...] Follow it through with me. Out of atomic systems come chemical systems. Out of chemical systems comes the covalent hydrogen bond, the carbon bond, the complex chemistry that is prebiotic or organic. Out of that chemistry come the macrophysical systems that we call membranes, gels, charge transfer complexes, this sort of thing. These systems are the chemical preconditions for life. Simple life, the life of the prokaryotes, the life of naked unnucleated DNA that characterised primitive life on the planet. Out of that life come eukaryotes, nucleated cells, and then complex colonies of cells. And then cell specialisation, leading to higher animals; leading to social animals; leading to complex social systems; leading to technologies; leading to globe-girdling electronically based information transfer-oriented cultures like ourselves. Someone said, “What’s so progressive about media? It’s the spreading of darkness at the speed of light”. It can be... it can be.
Now, there's more to this than simply that. ...each advancement into complexity, into novelty, proceeds more quickly than the stage that preceded it. This is very profound, because if accepted as a serious first principle it ends the marginalisation of our own species to the level of spectator status in a universe that knows nothing of us and cares nothing for us. This is the most advanced position that modern science will allow us... .
But I say, if in fact... the conservation and complexification of novelty is what the universe is striving for, then suddenly our own human enterprise, previously marginalised, takes on an immense new importance. We are apparently players in the cosmic drama, and in this particular act of the cosmic drama we hold a very central role. We are at the pinnacle of the expression of complexification in the animal world, and somehow this complexity, which is concentrated in us, has flowed over out of the domain of animal organisation and into this mysterious domain which we call culture... .
Well, you see, since the rise of Western monotheism, the human experience has been marginalised. We have been told that we were unimportant in the cosmic drama. [...] A single species, ourselves, has broken from the ordinary constraints of animal nature and created a new world, an epigenetic world – meaning a world not based on gene transfer and chemical propagation and preservation of information, but a world based on ideas, on symbols, on technologies, on tools, on ideas downloaded out of the human imagination and concretised in three-dimensional space as choppers, arrowpoints, particle accelerators, gene sequencers, space craft, what have you… all of this complexification occurring at a faster and faster rate.
And this brings me, then, to the second quality, or phenomenon, that science has overlooked, which is the acceleration of complexification. That the early history of the universe proceeded with excruciating slowness; then, life took hold, in the oceans of this planet. ...but still things proceeded on a scale of tens of millions of years to clock major change. Then, the conquest of the land. Higher animals, ...faster change, species following species, one upon another. Then,... the cross-over into the domain of culture, tool-making, myth-making, dance, poetry, song, story... and that set the stage for the fall into history - the incredibly unusual... process that has been going on for the past fifteen or twenty thousand years. A biological snap of the finger; and yet, in that time, everything that we call human - everything that we associated with higher values - has been adumbrated, elaborated, created, set in place, by one species: ourselves.
This acceleration of time, or complexity, shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, within the fabric of our own lives, we can almost daily, hourly, by the minute, feel it speeding up, taking hold. It’s a cliché that time is moving faster and faster – a cliché of the mass media – but I want to suggest that this is not a perceptual illusion, or a cultural mirage: that this is actually happening to the space–time matrix, that time is in fact speeding up.[...] ...history, is a state of incredible destabilisation. It's a chaostrophy in the process of happening. It begins with animals kept in balance by natural selection, and it ends with a global internet of electronic information transfer and a language-using species hurling its instruments toward the stars.
There has been more change since 1960 than in the previous several thousand years. There has been more change since 1992 than in the previous thousand years. Change is accelerating. Invention, connection, adumbration of ideas, mathematical algorithms, connectivity of people, social systems, this is all accelerating furiously, and under the control of no one - not the Catholic church, the community party, the IMF, no one is in charge of this process! This is what makes history so interesting: it's a runaway freight train on a dark and stormy night! This is why I'm not particularly sympathetic to conspiracy theory - because I can't make the leap of faith that would cause you to believe anyone could get hold of the beast enough to control it! - 1 mean, conspiracies, of course, we have conspiracies up the kazoo; but none of them are succeeding! - they're all being swept away, compromised, astonished by new information, and endlessly agonised!
....science is the exploration of the experience of nature without psychedelics. And I propose therefore to expand that enterprise an say we need a science beyond science: we need a science which plays with a full deck. And the reason the psychedelic experience is so important here is not some namby-pamby notion that it expands consciousness, or it makes you more perceptive, or something like that - 1 mean, that is all true; but it isn't strongly enough put. A cultural point of view is like a crystal: you have an amorphous cultural medium which at certain temperatures will form a crystal of cultural convention, if you will, and within the geometry of that crystal certain things make sense and certain things are excluded from making sense. Science is a condensed cultural point of view that is a rigid crystal of interlocking assumptions - assumptions such as, Matter is primary. Mind is tertiary. Causality works from the past into the future - so forth and so on. What psychedelics do, in terms of impact on the physical brain and organism of human beings, is they withdraw cultural programming. They dissolve cultural assumptions. They lift you out of that reassuring crystal and matrix of interlocking truths... , and instead they throw you into the presence of the great Who Knows? - the mystery... the mystery that has been banished from Western thought since the rise of Christianity and the suppression of the mystery religions.
Now, the model that attracts me to the psychedelic experience is not that it makes you smarter - a kind of simple-minded idea, paradoxically - or the idea that ([laughs] you are paying attention, huh?) . . . the idea that it's some kind of magnifying glass into the personal unconscious - your trauma, your childhood memories, the Satanic abuse your parents laid on you, so forth and so on. . . the model which I like is a geometric model, and says simply that since the rise of the Greek alphabet, print, linear thinking, and science, we have become imprisoned in a causal universe of material connectivity; and that this is a cultural myth... . What is revealed through the psychedelic experience, I think, is a higher-dimensional perspective on reality. And I use “higher-dimensional” in the mathematical sense: literally, you are lifted out of the plane of cultural assumptions and can look down, with a kind of god-like understanding that one obtains when one flies in an aeroplane over a landscape previously only viewed from the ground. In other words, from the vantage-point of the psychedelic experience, the cultural landscape is seen more nearly in its correct perspective. Seen as historically bounded, spatially and intellectually bounded.
Now, it's no coincidence that if you analyse biology, what it is, it's a kind of conquest of dimensionality. ...if you look at the entire fossil record, what you see is the evolution of senses - sensory preceptors, and organs of locomotion.
Well, if conquest of dimensionality is the criteria, then notice that we again occupy a special and privileged position in nature, because we can not only run with the best of them, see with the best of them, but we can remember and anticipate like crazy... . Other animals may imprint past situations of danger or opportunity, but they do not analyse experience and extrapolate it toward the hidden domain of the future. And consciousness is the generalised word that we use for this coordination of complex perception to create a world that draws from the past and builds a model of the future, and then suspends a perceiving organism in this magical moment called the Now, where the past is coordinated for the purpose of navigating the future.
Now, Eschaton is a rare word, until very recently unheard outside schools of theology, which I understand were a dying enterprise. Eschaton comes from the Greek word esch, which just means the end. The Eschaton is the last thing, the final thing. And it's very important to science to eliminate from its thinking any suspicion that this Eschaton might exist. Because if it were to exist, it would impart to reality a purpose, you see. If the Eschaton exists, then it's like a goal, or an attraction point, or an energy synch, toward which historical process is being moved. And science is incredibly hostile toward the idea of purpose. If you are not involved in the sciences, this may come as somewhat of a surprise to you; if you are a workbench scientist or a theoretician, you know that this is what's called the problem of teleology. It is because modern science defined itself in the 19 th century, when the reigning philosophy was deism... . ...that theological construct was poisonous to evolutionary theory in the 19 th century, and so they said, "We must create a theory of reality that does not require a goal - does not require a purpose. Everything must be pushed from the past. Nothing must be pulled toward the future".
The problem with this is that it does not fulfil our intuitions about reality. [...] And it is dramatically underscored by the psychedelic experience, which takes the raw material of your life, your culture, your history, and tells you this is not an existential mish-mash to be lived out with dignity because there's nothing else to be done with it - some kind of Camusian "Why not?" affirmation - it says, No; it says, you know, Your reality is a coherent cosmos. And embedded in your own sense of identity, embedded in your own sense of purpose, is a microscopic reflection of the larger purpose that is built into the universe.
Reality is accelerating toward an unimaginable omega point. We are the inheritors of immense momentum in our social systems, our philosophical and scientific and technological approaches to the world. Because we’re driving the historical vehicle with a rear-view mirror, it appears to us that we’re headed straight into a brick wall at a thousand miles an hour. It appears that we are destroying the Earth, polluting the atmosphere, wrecking the oceans, dehumanising ourselves, robbing our children of a future, so forth and so on. I believe what is in fact going on is that we are burning our bridges, one by one. We are burning our bridges to the past. We cannot go back to the mushroom-dotted plains of Africa, or the canopied rainforests of five million years ago. We can’t even go back to the era of the Houston six-shooter of two hundred years ago. We have burned our bridges; we are preparing for a kind of cultural forward escape.
And this question, you know, "Is there cause for optimism?" - the answer is, it depends on where you placed your bets! You know, if you placed your bets on male-dominated institutions based on consumer fetishism, propaganda, classism and materialism, then God help you, you should call your broker!
Well, if I were dependent on the notion that human institutions are necessary to pull us out of the ditch, I would be very despairing. As I said, nobody's in charge - not the IMF, the Pope, the communist party, the Jews, no, no, no, nobody has their finger on what's going on. So then, why hope? Isn't it just a runaway train, out of control? I don't think so. I think the out-of-controlness is the most hopeful thing about it! After all, whose control is it out of?! You and I never controlled it in the first place! Why are we anxious about the fact that it's out of control? I think if it's out of control, then our side is winning!
Every model of the universe has a hard swallow. What I mean by a hard swallow is a place where the argument cannot hide the fact that there's something slightly fishy about it. The hard swallow built into science is this business about the Big Bang. [...] It is in fact no different than saying, "And God said, let there be light". And what these philosophers of science are saying is, give us one free miracle, and we will roll from that point forward - from the birth of time to the crack of doom! - just one free miracle, and then it will all unravel according to natural law, and these bizarre equations which nobody can understand but which are so holy in this enterprise.
Well, I say then, if science gets one free miracle, then everybody gets one free miracle. ...if we have to have a singularity in our modelling of what reality is, let's make it as modest and as non- unlikely a singularity as possible. The singularity that arises for no reason, in absolutely empty space, instantly, is the least likely of all singularities. Doesn't it seem more likely, if we have to have a singularity, that it occurs in a domain with a rich history, with many causal streams feeding into the situation that nurtures the complexity? In other words, to put it simply, if you have to have a singularity, doesn't it make more sense to put it at the end of a cosmogonic process, than at the beginning? And I think this is the great breakthrough of psychedelics and shamanism, that science got it absolutely wrong: the universe didn't begin in a singularity - who knows how the universe began, or would even presume to judge? - but the universe ends in a singularity. It has been growing more singular, more complex, more unique, more novel, every passing moment since it burst into existence. And if that's true, then we represent a kind of concrescence of universal intent. We're not mere spectators, or a cosmic accident, or some side show, or the Greek chorus to the main event: the human experience is the main event.
...in our species, time has accelerated; time has left the gentle ebb and flow of gene transfer and adaptation that characterises biological evolution, and instead historical time is generated.
History is a kind of gestation process; it's a kind of metamorphosis; it's an episode in the life of a species. If you think of the simple example of metamorphosis - that of caterpillar to butterfly - we all know that there is this intermediate resting stage where the caterpillar is, for all practical purposes, enzymatically dissolved, and then reconstituted as an entirely different kind of organism, with different physical structures, different eyes, different legs, a different way of breathing; with wings, where no wings were before; with a different kind of feeding apparatus - this is what's happening to us! History is a process of metamorphosis. It's a pupation stage. It begins with naked monkeys, and it ends with a human machine planet-girdling interface capable of releasing the energies that light the stars!
Remember, I said that what is dissolved are the crystalline structures of cultural assumption? Well, one of the strongest symmetries in our cultural crystal is the symmetry that gathers around the concept of past and future. The shaman actually rises into a domain where past and future are different areas on the same topological manifold. This is not a metaphor; it's what's really going on.
So it's as though the members of a culture are imprisoned in linear time, and the shaman is not. [...] Culture is simply clothing upon the human experience; but the human organism, outside the confines of culture, in a direct relationship to nature, transcends time and space. This was a fact, I believe, that was known in prehistory, and in fact was the source of paleolithic values, which were not material, not linear, not surplus-oriented, not class-oriented, not power-oriented; but rather, oriented toward a kind of egalitarian partnership in an environment of great material simplicity. And human beings lived like that for probably half a million years - with poetry, with dance, with mathematics, with magic, with story, with humour; but not with the paralysing and toxic artefacts of the late-evolving, machine-worshipping, monotheistic, linear, phonetic-alphabet tight-assed straight culture that we are a part of.
And because our own cultural values seem a little shoddy at this moment, those on the fringes of Western civilisation have begun to seek alternatives, begun to look at alternative religions (yoga, tantra, Buddhism, Zen, whatever), alternative approaches to diet (vegetarianism, macrobiotics, so forth and so on) and alternative approaches to authentic experience, which means psychedelics.
...actually we stand on the brink of an unexplored landscape of planetary size: the word of the high paleolithic, which is a Gaian world, a world of feeling - not analytical intellectual constructs, but a world of empowered feeling - empathy; and intuitive understanding, an understanding that doesn't arise in a context of Greek logic, but in a context of animal knowing the in the authentic mode of the body.
The body is the nexus of the mystery of life. And our culture takes us out of the body, and sells our loyalty into political systems, into religions, into inanimate objects and machines, collections, so forth and so on. The felt experience of the body is what the psychedelics are handing back to us; that's why it's called escape, because it's escape from HBO, from walking the mall, from seeing what's on the tube, from consuming trash media - it's escape from all of that, into the authenticity of the body.
...sexuality and psychedelics are carrying us back to an authentic sense of the body. Carry us back to the domain of authentic values. And more and more, the message that people are getting as they avail themselves of the psychedelic experience is that it is not a journey into the human unconscious, or into the ghost bardos of our chaotic civilisation; it's s journey into the presence of the Gaian mind, that the Earth is a coherent whole: it is a thinking, feeling, intending, being - that in terms of our value structures, it would be foolish to image as anything other than female. And when cultural values created by male dominance and science and linearity and so forth and so on - when those values are dissolved, what it waiting there is this incredibly poignant experience of the matrix - what James Joyce called the Mama Matrix Most Mysterious: nothing more than our bodies and the earth out of which our bodies came.
History, as we have lived it in the West, has been a turning of our back on that; and now history has failed. Western cultural institutions, having become global institutions, now show themselves to be inadequate to inspire, lead or carry anyone into a future worth living in. At this moment, then, this reconnecting to the Gaian mind becomes a kind of moral imperative.
Now, I think we have to abandon Western cultural values and return to the deeper wisdom of the body in connection with the plants. That's the seamless web that leads us back into the heart of nature; and if we can do this, then this very narrow neck of cultural crisis can be navigated. Very little of the past can be saved. The architectonics, the machines, the systems of monetary exchange and propaganda, the silly religions, the asinine aesthetic canons, very little of that can be saved. But what can be saved is the sense of love and caring, and mutuality, that we all put into and take from the human enterprise. You know, there's a Grateful Dead song that says "You can't go back and you can't stand still. If the thunder don't get you, then the lightning will." And we now hold, through the possession of these psychedelics, catalysts for the human imagination of sufficient power that if we use them we can deconstruct the lethal vehicle that is carrying us toward the brink of apocalypse. We can deconstruct that vehicle and redesign it into a kind of starship that would carry us and our children out into the broad starry galaxy we know to be awaiting us.
So what we must do, I think, is see our future in the imagination. Catalyse the imagination. Form symbiotic relationships with the plants. Affirm archaic values. And spread the good news that what is out of control, what is in fact dying, is a world that had become too top-heavy with its own hubris, too bent by its own false value systems, and too dehumanised to care about what happened to its own children. So I say, good riddance to it! Bring on the archaic revival, and let's create a new world!
[inaudiable question from the audience] Well, let's go back and talk about schizophrenia for just a second. The question is, you know, schizophrenia involves basically breaking with ordinary value systems, and how does it relate to the psychedelic state..., I mean I'm extrapolating, but that's the basic thing.
Well, there are different things to be said about this. I mean, first of all, how many psychiatric residents - who are the people who come most in contact with schizophrenics, whatever that means - how many psychiatric residents have ever seen an undrugged schizophrenic? Very, very few. Because the very first thing that happens is, for the convenience of physicians and the nursing staff, some outlandish drug is brought into the picture, which then deflects this healing process from ever reaching any kind of natural conclusion. Schizophrenia is just a catch-all term for forms of mental behaviour that we don't understand. In the 19 th century, there was a term "melancholia", which we would now call bipolar depression, so forth and so on. But all forms of sadness, unhappiness, maladaptation, so forth and so on, were poured into this label "melancholia".
Now, schizophrenia is a similar thing. I can remember an experience I had years ago, it was in the Tolman Library at the University of California, which is the psych library, and I was looking up some drug or something, and I just saw a book and I pulled it off the shelf, a book about schizophrenia. And it said, the typical schizophrenic lives in a world of twilight imagining, marginal to his society, incapable of holding a regular job, these people live on the fringes, content to drift in their own self-created value systems. That's it! That's it! Now I understand! We have no tradition of shamanism. We have no tradition of journeying into these mental worlds. We are terrified of madness. We fear it because the Western mind is a house of cards, and the people who built that house of cards know that, and they are terrified of madness. Tim Leary once said - or I gave him credit for saying; he later told me he never said it - but whoever said it, this was a brilliant statement; someone once said, "LSD is a psychedelic substance which occasionally causes psychotic behaviour in people who have not taken it." - right? And I would bet you that more people have exhibited psychotic behaviour from not taking LSD, but just thinking about it, than ever exhibited it from taking it - certainly in my family. I watched my parents both go psychotic from the mere fact that LSD existed; they would never have taken it. There is a great phobia about the mind: the Western mind is very queasy when first principles are questioned. Rarer than corpses in this society are the untreated mad, because we can't come to terms with that. A shaman is someone who swims in the same ocean as the schizophrenic, but the shaman has thousands and thousands of years of sanctioned technique and tradition to draw upon. In a traditional society, if you exhibited "schizophrenic" tendencies, you are immediately drawn out of the pack and put under the care and tutelage of master shamans. You are told, You are special. Your abilities are very central to the health of our society. You will cure. You will prophesy. You will guide our society in its most fundamental decisions. Contrast this with what a person exhibiting schizophrenic activity in our society is told. They're told, You don't fit in. You are becoming a problem, You don't pull your own weight. You are not of equal worth to the rest of us. You are sick. You have to go to the hospital. You have to be locked up. You are on a par with prisoners and lost dogs in our society. So that treatment of schizophrenia makes it incurable. Imagine if you were slightly odd, and the solution were to take you and put you - lock you into a place where everyone was seriously mad. That would drive anyone mad! If you've ever been in a madhouse, you know that it's an environment calculated to make you crazy and to keep you crazy. This would never happen in an aboriginal or traditional society. I wrote a book, I mean this has to be the wrap-up, because we're over time - but I wrote a book called The Archaic Revival; I signed it tonight for some of you. The idea there is that we have gone sick by following a path of untrammelled rationalism, male dominance, attention to the visible surface of things, practicality, bottom-line-ism. We have gone very, very sick. And the body politic, like any body, when it feels itself to be sick, it begins to produce antibodies, or strategies for overcoming the condition of dis-ease. And the 20 th century is an enormous effort at self-healing. Phenomena as diverse as surrealism, body piercing, psychedelic drug use, sexual permissiveness, jazz, experimental dance, rave culture, tattooing, the list is endless. What do all these things have in common? They represent various styles of rejection of linear values. The society is trying to cure itself by an archaic revival, by a reversion to archaic values. So when I see people manifesting sexual ambiguity, or scarifying themselves, or showing a lot of flesh, or dancing to syncopated music, or getting loaded, or violating ordinary canons of sexual behaviour, I applaud all of this; because it's an impulse to return to what is felt by the body - what is authentic, what is archaic - and when you tease apart these archaic impulses, at the very centre of all these impulses is the desire to return to a world of magical empowerment of feeling. And at the centre of that impulse is the shaman: stoned, intoxicated on plants, speaking with the spirit helpers, dancing in the moonlight, and vivifying and invoking a world of conscious, living mystery. That's what the world is. The world is not an unsolved problem for scientists or sociologists. The world is a living mystery: our birth, our death, our being in the moment - these are mysteries. They are doorways opening on to unimaginable vistas of self -exploration, empowerment and hope for the human enterprise. And our culture has killed that, taken it away from us, made us consumers of shoddy products and shoddier ideals. We have to get away from that; and the way to get away from it is by a return to the authentic experience of the body - and that means sexually empowering ourselves, and it means getting loaded, exploring the mind as a tool for personal and social transformation. The hour is late; the clock is ticking; we will be judged very harshly if we fumble the ball. We are the inheritors of millions and millions of years of successfully lived lives and successful adaptations to changing conditions in the natural world. Now the challenge passes to us, the living, that the yet-to- be-born may have a place to put their feet and a sky to walk under; and that's what the psychedelic experience is about, is caring for, empowering, and building a future that honours the past, honours the planet and honours the power of the human imagination. There is nothing as powerful, as capable of transforming itself and the planet, as the human imagination. Let's not sell it straight. Let's not whore ourselves to nitwit ideologies. Let's not give our control over to the least among us. Rather, you know, claim your place in the sun and go forward into the light. The tools are there; the path is known; you simply have to turn your back on a culture that has gone sterile and dead, and get with the programme of a living world and a re-empowerment of the imagination.
[Eros and the Eschaton , 1994 ]
How much of these ideas can you imbibe without having to go the whole distance? And the answer is, you know, it’s a personal matter for each person to feel into their circumstance which means their history, both psychedelic and non-psychedelic. And then to feel into the projection of their future. Do you think you are repeating the lifestyles and algorithms of your parents and grandparents ad infinitum back to Adam, or do you feel like you stepped to the front of the train of human evolution, that you are making yourself new every day? If we reach too far back into the stabilizing metaphors of the past we get rigidity, habit, limitation. If we step too quickly into the unlimited freedom of the future we loose our grounding. Socialism did this over the past hundred years and because it abandoned any contact with a realistic human psychology, the best intended people ended up creating nightmare societies. If your theory is not true to the nature of humanness you will end up beating human beings like metal on the anvil of your ideology. And this creates great human suffering and, uhh, historical catastrophe.
...at this moment there is a kind of a, what dynamicists call a cusp, a turning of the system upon its axes and the word is now beginning to make the return journey to the mysterious and hidden source from which it descended.
In the past hundred years as these super technologies have been developed in the West, the smashing of atoms, the invention of radio, television, computers, immunology so forth and so on, data has been arriving about the practices of aboriginal cultures all over the planet. That they dissolve ordinary realities, ordinary cultural values through an interaction, a symbiosis, a relationship to local plants that perturb brain chemistry. And in this domain of perturbed brain chemistry the cultural operating system is wiped clean. And something older, even for these people, something older, more vitalistic, more in touch with the animal’s soul replaces it, replaces the cultural operating system. Something not determined by history and geography but something writ in the language of the flesh itself. This is who you are. This is true nakedness. You are not naked when you take off your clothes. You still wear your religious assumptions, your prejudices, your fears, your illusions, your delusions. When you shed the cultural operating system, then essentially you stand naked before the inspection of your own psyche. Desmond Morris called it “The naked ape.” And it’s from that position, a position outside the cultural operating system that we can begin to ask real questions about what does it mean to be human, what kind of circumstance are we caught in and what kind of structures, if any, can we put in place to assuage the pain and accentuate the glory and the wonder that lurks waiting for us in this very narrow slice of time between the birth canal and the yawning grave. In other words, we have to return to first premises. So, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. And at first it seemed to me only a metaphor, this phrase “Culture is your operating system.” But because as I travel around a lot and get this jolting experience frequently of let’s say leaving London on a foggy evening and arriving in Johannesburg 14 hours later to a sweltering day in a city of 14 million on the brink of anarchy, I get to change my operating system frequently. And so I notice the relativity of these systems. And some work for some things and some for others. For instance, if you are a positivist, if you’re running positivism 4.0 you can’t support UFOs. Positivism 4.0 does not support UFOs. If on the other hand you’re running Urantia Book 5.1 8 as your operating system UFOs and a number of other things can get in through the door. That is, what we would technically say, a more tolerant operating system, or its plug in support special effects benighted [denied?] at the positivist. Well, it’s fun to think this way because it shows you that you don’t have to be the victim of your culture. It’s not like your eye color or your height or your gender. It’s fragile, it can be remade if you wish it to be. And then the question is, well, how does one download a new operating system? Well, first of all you have to clear some space on your disc. The best way to do this is probably with a pharmacological agent. Umm, you think of one while I’ll have a drink of water... You can put a lot of things in the trash and have them just disappear with a psilocybin upgrade. Other pharmacological agents that will clear your disk are ayahuasca. And of course these are gentle clearings of the disk which take five, six, seven hours. If you’re in a hurry to dump that old data and leap right into the new operating system click on the button marked dimethyltryptamine. A compressed disc erasure will immediately be downloaded un-stuffed, bin hexed, implemented, installed, run and you will find yourself with an entirely different head. Now shamans have always known, though they may not have used the kind of language I’m using here, shamans have always known this trick. What trick? It has two facets. First of all that culture is an operating system, that’s all it is, and that the operating system can be wiped out and replaced by something else. So in, essentially what’s going on among shamans and those who resort to them for curing and counseling and so forth is, somebody is running a slightly more advanced operating system than the customer. The shaman is in possession of certain facts about plants, about animals, about healing, about human psychology, about the local geography, about mojo of many different sorts that the client is not aware of. The client is running culture lite. The shaman paid for the registered and licensed version of the software and is running a much heavier version of the software than the client. I think we should all aspire to make this upgrade. It’s very important that you have all the bells and whistles on your operating system otherwise somebody is gonna be able to get leg up on you. Well, what’s wrong with the operating system that we have? Consumer capitalism 5.0 or whatever it is. Well, it’s dumb! It’s retro, it’s very non-competitive. It’s messy, it wastes the environment, it wastes human resources, it’s inefficient, it runs on stereotypes, it runs on a low sampling rate, which is what creates stereotypes, low sample rates make everybody appear alike, when in fact the glory is in everyone’s differences, and the current operating system is flawed. It actually has bugs in it, that generate contradictions. Contradictions such as we’re cutting the earth from beneath our feet. We’re poisoning the atmosphere that we breathe. This is not intelligent behavior. This is a culture with a bug in its operating system that’s making it produce erratic, dysfunctional, malfunctional behavior. Time to call a tech. And who are the techs? The shamans are the techs.
[...]Well, so then if we let the scales of cultural values fall from our eyes and try not to look at the world through the eyes of science, or democracy, or capitalism, or Christianity, what is there beyond ideology, what are the facts of the matter? As I see it, the most visible facts on the surface of things, on the surface of being, I see the law of increasing complexity. Things have gotten more complicated through time. I have never met anyone who could successfully argue against this. That doesn’t mean it’s true but it means that maybe, as Wittgenstein used to say, “True enough.” True enough. That as you approach the present moment in the only area of the universe which we have accurate data about, which is this planet, things become more complicated. A million years ago there were no human civilizations, a thousand years ago there were no machines to speak of, a hundred years ago there was no communication infrastructure to speak of, ten years ago there was no Internet, eighteen month ago there was no Java. Things are complexifying, intensifying, moving together.This is the universal drama that is reaching culmination in our lifetimes. Because, and I offer this, don’t believe me for God’s sake, don’t believe anybody, just take this stuff in and then measure it against your own experience. The second extra cultural fact that I’ve been able to discern, the first being ‘things get more complicated as you approach the present,’ and the second being, ‘that process of complexification is occurring faster and faster.’ The early universe was very slow moving. It took a long time for things to cool down and life to begin its agonizing march out of the slime into animal form, meeting extinction and catastrophe and setback after setback but always picking itself up, literally, out of the mud and moving forward. Well, as life left the ocean the pace of evolution quickened. As life radiated across the land the number of phyla multiplied the number of species multiplied, finally, a million years ago, pick a number, a million and a half years ago, the higher primates begin to use tools, fire enters the picture.[...]
The second obvious fact which haunts the post cultural viewpoint is this acceleration of change, and I’ve sort of built my career on this because I am a rationalist but I feel the emotional power of this thing. We are caught in a basin of attraction, to use a mathematical term. In other words we are under the influence of something which is pulling us into the future or into novelty, if you want to put it that way, at a faster and faster rate. So problems which are presented in the following terms “If we don’t do something in 500 years we will run out of this that or the other” or, “If we don’t do something, in a thousand years this or that will happen,” these are meaningless, statistics. Because the acceleration into novelty is rewriting the rules now every eighteen months. We are descending now into a well of novelty such that more change is now occurring in a single human lifetime than occurred in the previous ten thousand years of human history. We are approaching at a faster and faster rate something unthinkable. Something which is sculpting us in it's image. something which shamans have always known was there though they may not have used the metaphor ‘ahead in time,' that’s a Western download of where it is, because you could just as well say it’s in heaven, or behind us in time, or everywhere, or nowhere. The point is we’re about to arrive in its presence. And, it is shaping us to prepare us for the arrival. It is making us more and more in its image. This is not a new process. This began a long, long time ago. But it’s now reaching its culmination. And I said a few minutes ago “The Internet is a light at the end of the tunnel”. The Internet is the beginning of a nervous system that is knitting not only all human beings but all life together, all information together. Because, you know, there already is an Internet. It’s called the integrated ecosystem of Planet Three. It runs on pheromones, it runs on weather systems, ocean tides, tell uric currents moving in the earth, thousands of methods. It is that way because our cultural tradition is one of reductionism, tearing things apart, break them into their subordinate units, break those into still smaller units. Well, if you have a theory of reality like that, what you end up with is, all the pieces spread out and no car and nowhere to go. But nature has always operated as an integrated system of communication and the Internet is in a sense nothing more than a human aping of a natural system already in place. If we could do it through pheromones, light mycelium and electromagnetic pulses through the earth, we wouldn’t be stringing copper and cable and fiber optic. Those things are simply historical artifacts of the moment. What lies ahead on the Internet, what lies ahead, I think for us, and this is the last point I really wanna make. And we can talk about all this, is, you know, I have been a true resister of the alien penetration of human civilization because I just saw no evidence for it. But the chant that they are coming has now grown so loud, I feel like sort of one has to ask oneself short of one hundred percent skepticism, what the hell is going on with this alien hype? And I think the problem is one of modeling and intelligence. There is an alien, we are in the cultural process of meeting this alien but they do not come in thousand ton beryllium ships from Zeneba Ganubi to trade high technology for human fetal tissue. I mean that, if you be, that’s an intelligence test, folks. That’s not how it works. Our own hysteria makes it very difficult to deal with the presence of the alien, and the alien knows that. That’s why it has disguised itself as a psychedelic experience, I think. You know how in all this ’50s B science fiction movies there was always this theme of the landing area. And I saw it in ‘Mars Attacks!’ too. There must be a landing zone. Somehow we must let them know that we welcome them by building a landing area. And the Nazca plane has been claimed and on, and on, and on. I think that the alien is a creature of pure information. It’s purely information. It’s non-local. It comes out of the Bell non-locality part of the universe that exists distributed through hyperspace. The alien is real but it is only made of information. And therefore the only dimension in which it can be encountered is a dimension of pure information. Fortunately we are building a dimension of pure information. Providentially we have named it ‘The Net’. The Net is a net for catching the alien mind. How will it come? Will it descend upon our websites in a flash of light? I don’t think so. How it will come is half through human fingers. The alien is real but it is within us. It can only communicate information. And that information has to be made real in this world by human coders. So if we were to set out lightheartedly to build a virtual reality as alien as we could make it, I maintain that three quarters of the way our hair would be standing on end because we would realize we are not inventing this. We are discovering it. You know, Michelangelo said, “The form is in the block of marble. What I do is I take away the part that is unnecessary and reveal the human torso.” In the same way the alien is already within us but we must model it, we must call it forth into a dimension of potential dialogue. And I think that this is what high tech society can bring to the shamanic equation. [...] The monkey flesh is being penetrated by something... Dare I say it? Divine! Or at least alien, trans-planetary and beyond the power of human comprehension. I don’t know if we are talking about God Almighty here. I don’t know if we are talking about the god ‘who hang the stars like lamps in heaven,’ as Milton says. That seems a tall order. Maybe what we are talking about is the god of biology. Something has happened to this planet. It has been infected with an informational, call it virus, call it force, call it beam? That is using matter and yes, using our flesh and our thoughts to bootstrap itself to higher and higher levels. And now the prosthesis of machinery and the possibility of an artificial intelligence raises the real option of producing… of actually midwifing the birth of an entirely new, not species, but order of biological and intelligence in existence. The human machine symbiote is upon us. I mean it’s been with us for a while since the first wheel was carved, since the first stick was sharpened but that was all very simple stuff. Now it’s clear that we are in partnership with another mind which comes to us through our machinery's and through the biosphere. Wherever we press beyond the thin curtain of rationalist culture we discover the incredibly rich, erotic, scary, promising, presence of this intelligent other which beckons us out of history and says, you know, “The galaxy lies waiting. A galaxy, or galaxies lie waiting. Loose the encumbrances of three dimensional space. Return with the word to its higher and hidden source.” And at that point you will discover the alchemical Paraclete will be given unto you.
[Light of the Third Mellenium, 1997]
History is the in-rushing toward what the Buddhists call the realm of the densely packed, a transformational realm where the opposites are unified.
[Psychadelic Society, 1984]
...time is only experienced by the events which occur within it; and I maintain that the early universe had very little going on and consequently time moved very, very slowly. [...] So when I say time is speeding up, what I mean really is, more and more is happening. And if you ask the question, “Well, what would be the ultimate state of connectivity, or of happening?” It's when all points are connected to all other points.
The universe is... bringing everything into co-relationship with everything else and somehow it does this through the production of consciousness. Consciousness is this integrative function... . We say that an organism co-ordinates a point of view, Well, in a way, what's happening over time is that the universe is coordinating a point of view, and as it does this it becomes somehow more aware, more self-conscious, more being-like and less thing-like and, as I said, this process is not proceeding at a steady pace, it is proceeding faster and faster. [...] More connectivity occurs now in a calender year than occurred in a million years, a billion years ago. So, somehow, as we approach the present, we find ourselves in an ever denser realm of activity, inter-relationship, connectivity, and the result of this, is more of the same, producing a shrinking globe, ever more immersive technologies, dissolution of political, social, gender, and class boundaries of all sorts.
You know, before the advent of man, of human beings, the fastest changes on this planet of any consequence were genetic changes. Changes in the genomes of plants and animals. Well, biologists know that for a fruit fly to add a spur to its leg, for a bird to change its plumage, you need hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of years of evolutionary time. With the advent of human beings, using spoken language, a new kind possibility was born. It's called epigenetic change, in other words, change which is not about genes but which is about languages, customs, behaviours of human beings. Epigenetic change reaches its dramatic culmination in speech, writing, and communication of all sorts. And so the carriers of epigenetic change, the human beings, are automatically then the carriers of accelerated novelty. [...] So by moving from the genetic to the epigenetic realm we have vastly accelerated all kinds of processes. Now we appear to be about to move from the strictly human domain to the human machine symbioses domain... .
...in the 19th century, if you spoke of nature having a purpose, you were thought to be anti-evolution. Because in the 19th century there was great pain to eliminate anything like pre-formation, or teleology, or purpose, or God. All these things they were trying to eliminate from evolutionary theory and until very recently in scientific thought, the idea has been that events are pushed by the causal necessity embedded in the events which preceded them.
Recently mathematicians have evolved what they call the notion of attractors. Or strange attractors in some cases, and these are processes where a dynamic is not pushed by causal necessity from behind but it's pulled by point in the future.
So, I have always doubted that evolutionary theory without purpose, without teleology, could produce this complex a world as we see around us in as short a time, five billion years as the life of the Earth. It seemed more as though these processes were not just wandering across a flat genetic landscape. The process of biological evolution was actually being channelled between high walls, in other words, it could move—it had some motion this way, some that-- but its forward direction was, ah, inevitable, and this is the idea of an attractor. That what the universe is doing is: it is under the sway of what I call, the transcendental object at the end of time, and that is this domain of hyper-connectivity.
There really is a purpose to the universe, its purpose is this state of hyper-complexification in which all of its points become related to each other, become what mathematicians call 'co-tangent' and it gives the universe the feeling of being imbued with a caring presence. It makes it appear as though nature is tending toward something. And it changes our own ethical and moral position in the universe because, you know, science tells us that we're the products of a cosmic accident: we're at the edge of a ordinary galaxy in an ordinary star system and we're damn lucky to be here and that's it, that's our place. A very existential notion of our place in the cosmos; but if you take this other point of view, that process is under the influence of an attractor, and that the value the attractor is maximising is novelty, then suddenly, for the first time in 500 years, human beings are moved back to the centre of the stage because we are the most novel thing on this planet.
So, suddenly human beings become important,... the cutting edge of a cosmos that glories in order and is moving towards higher states of order and at the present moment we are the carriers. Once it was the great dinosaurs, but today, humanity represents the cutting edge of complexity and this process of moving towards complexification. [Note: see de Chardin on Anthroprogenesis as the culmination of a Cosmogenesis]
The planet is on a collision course with the most profound event it's possible to imagine. The freeing of organic life from the chrysalis of matter. For a billion years there's been life on this planet but never life that could step outside of matter.
...people have said to me, “Well don't you find it a little strange that such a momentous event would occur, ah, in human history?” After all human history is 10 000 years wide, the planet is 5 billion years old—pretty unusual coincidence that human history would be happening when this cosmic event happens. No, that's completely wrong. Human history is being caused by the nearby presence of this event. In other words, if you think of the event as something which has shells of influence: some of its shells of influence reach so far back in time that they drag life out of the primitive oceans. Some its shells of influence reach so far back in time that they define the emergence of the hominid line out of the higher primates. Some shells reach back to Egypt. Some to medieval time. As you approach the present it becomes stronger and stronger but I would argue that the presence of human civilisation on this planet is the strongest evidence we have that matter and organisational processes are about to make some kind of a leap to a new order of being.
...nature is conscious, nature is alive, nature is an organism full of intent.
[Interview with John Hazard, 1998]
Abraham: May I remind you Terence of a quotation on the front pages of your first book [The Invisible Landscape, 1975] speculating that mushroom spores are intergalactic travelers, that they have a hard case impervious to ultraviolet rays that enables them to float on the galactic wind from planetary system to planetary system, bringing us linguistic communications from other life forms, including immaterial life forms. I think this is an approximate summary of your preface.
Mckenna: But notice how materialst and space and time bound that hypothesis is. I think now our intellectual toolkit has been enriched by the virtual conformation of the idea that there is a Bell type non local aspect to the universe. So i do think that we are in contact with all intelligence in the universe through the Bell non-local connection, but that means it has no historicity, this connection, its always been there complete and entire.
Abraham: ... may I remind you of father Bedes letter where he challenges us to consider the mystical element which he describes as more or less in the language of David Bohm's implicate order, that all time and all space somehow exists as an interconnected ball of intelligence which is informing... this more or less linear progress in human intelligence, culture, capability, tool using and exponential population growth...
Meckenna: Novelty theory would simply say the universe is a complexity conserving engine, whatever complexity it achieves, by any means, it makes that the platform for the thrust into deeper complexity. [...] You mentioned David Bohm, his idea of 'emergent properties' seems to achieve the same end without a telos of novelty theory. He simply says when you complexify a system new properties will emerge suddenly and unexpectantly that couldn't have been predicted. If you put emergence theory with novelty theory you see that the universe couldn't but proceed along the line of complexification of morphogenetic expression, of density of connectivity and all the things that retard entropy and give rise to in fact the complex non-entropic, ordered, apparently teleologically informed cosmos that were in.
Abraham: what you've described is evolutionary theory as a cosmological hypothesis, this is a theological position basically.
Mckenn: ...its a teleological position
Abraham: ...that there's this timeless implicate order, and there is life on planet earth, and in the rest of the universe, which evolves according to this theoretical rule, by an increase in complexity; when somethings revealed there's a development, its not forgotten, it builds upon that, and this mystical 'unit', while knowing all, is not telling all, but revealing gradually because just that's the law of life as we know it...
Mckenna: ...in this three-dimensional space and time. ...the only difference between the morphogenetic field that he [Rupert Sheldrake] has enthusiastically proposed, and the ideas of novelty theory, is for Rupert its pushed from the past, for me its pulled from the future. ...the phobia against telos is an artifact of 19th century Deism and doesn't go very deep.
Most of the intelligence in the universe would be utterly incomprehensible to us because it is so different. So we are transducing virtually the entire hologram of possible intelligence in the universe, but the reason why our fantasy of angels and aliens give us hominids with binocular vision who use acoustical speech, in other words, creatures very like ourselves, is because we can only recognize what is familiar in this universal information field. So we sail right past the star mind, the gallaxy mind, to communicate with a race of winged hominids around Kenebble Newbie prime, because they are enough like us that we can grok our possibility of a relationship. [Editors note: 'grok' is a neologism coined by Robert A. Heinlein in his science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land: "Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed—to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience"; the OED defines it as "to understand intuitively or by empathy; to establish rapport with."]
[The Evolutionary Mind, Trialogues 1, 2 and 3. Terence Mckenna, Ralph Abraham, Rupert Sheldrake, 1998]
now we are attempting – with basically a carved wooden oar – to turn a battleship around. And it’s a very frustrating undertaking. The momentum for catastrophe is enormous in this situation. [...] There are people struggling to figure out how to control population, struggling to figure out how to balance the relationship between the masculine and the feminine, struggling to bring amelioration of hunger and disease to various parts of the world. So we’re in essentially a tragic situation. A tragic situation is a catastrophe when you know it, you see. And part of the Western impulse has been to subjugate all other cultural styles to our own. And this has taken the form of actually swallowing and digesting Native American culture; the ethnicity of European culture has been replaced by the megaculture of Nouveau Europa, whatever that means; cultures are melted down in the belly of the Western scientific beast and then they become structural members in an ever-expanding edifice of Western scientism.
However, the psychedelic experience, as practised by shamans in many, many parts of the world, is apparently a bite too large to swallow. Psychedelics arrived on the Western agenda only about 100 years ago, when German chemists brought peyote to Berlin and extracted mescaline; and for the next 50 years, up until about 1945 (55 years, make it), very little happened. Mescaline did not – though it was taken by Havelock Ellis and William James, and F. Weir Mitchell, and – it did not spawn a craze; it did not influence large numbers of intellectuals particularly. Then in the 1940s, LSD was discovered; in the 1950s, DMT and psilocybin were discovered; and then, in 1966, all these things were made illegal. There was no real opportunity for Western science to grapple with these things before they were decided to be too hot to handle. Made not only unavailable to people such as you and I, ordinary people, but taken off the agenda of scientific research.
Where [has the] spirit of scientific courage has gone, I don’t know; but there is very little of it left. Now, people feed at the trough of government grants and enormous corporate research budgets, and the idea of actually pursuing truth, or attempting to understand the phenomenon in an unbiased fashion, divorced from its commercial, social and political dimensions, is unheard of.
Where is life carrying us? What is this all about? Is it carrying us toward extinction, so that the rest of Nature can heave an enormous sigh of relief and then get back to the business of nest-building, mating flights..., and whatever it is that they’re doing out there? – or is it carrying us toward some kind of a transition? If you look back through the history of life – which is a long history, I mean it reaches back a billion years – it’s… every advance happens suddenly, unpredictably, and in a very short period of time. Some of you who stay tuned to the scientific literature may have noticed this series of articles that were around last week, about what they’re calling the Big Bang of Biology [the so called 'Cambrian explosion']: that there was a period of time – incredibly brief, perhaps between a million and ten million years – when all the phyla of life on this planet radiated into existence: some time between 525 and 535 million years ago – just, it all snapped into existence. The episode in which life left the sea is a similar highly confined transition event. People recently have written about what they call punctuated evolution; evolution is not, apparently, a slow curve of unfoldment – it is instead a series of [dynamic] equilibrium states punctuated by violent fluctuations in between, and then a new [dynamic] equilibrium state.
It represented an extremely dramatic shift of modality, and this is what history is. History is characterised by its brevity, for one thing. I mean, we have packed more change into the last ten thousand years than the billion years which preceded it. And yet, as entities, as animals, meat, we have not changed at all in ten thousand years. [...] Well, then history is apparently – if we view it as a process that Nature tolerates, if not encourages – then history is essentially apparently important enough to place into… jeopardise the stability of all the rest of the natural ecosystemic world.
It’s as though Nature is saying, “We are willing to place the entire planetary ecology in danger for 50,000 years in order for the opportunity to be explored of language-using, technological-expressing, intelligence carrying all of life to the next level”. And it’s a terrifying enterprise, because apparently to carry life to the next level, tremendous intellectual sophistication is required about the release and control of energy. The problem is, energy can be used to destroy as well as build. So as the human enterprise has moved toward greater and greater power, and ability to manipulate the environment, the stakes in the cosmic game have risen. And now what we have is approximately $100 billion sitting in the centre of the crap table, and one roll of the dice more and we’re going to either win it or lose everything. Because intelligence, if we fail, will never again reach the kind of levels on this planet that we have reached.
Why? Because we have extracted all the available metals near the surface of the Earth; an evolving species following after us will find the Earth strangely depleted of usable materials, down to the 1500-foot level; and so intelligence coming beyond us will find it just does not have the resources to make the leap to technical civilisation. So it’s beginning to look like a one-shot deal.
Technology and culture are the consequences, the derivatives, of the ratiocenation of the mind. And technology has – like biological life, but on a much faster, accelerated timeframe – technology has this weird tendency to transcend itself; to bootstrap itself. [...] Technology, strangely enough, created by a biological creature, has itself this self-transcending quality.
But ever-accelerating; this is the important point – because the ever-accelerating accretion of technology means that history is strangely foreshortened at the future end, because it happens faster and faster. It’s like a process that begins very slowly, but once started has the quality of a cascade – or, you know, the rate at which falling bodies move: 32.5 feet per second, per second! [...] Technology is like this; and we now are in a domain where, if we attempt to propagate technological development forward 50 years, it becomes unmanageable as an intellectual task. ...when you think that every artefact of our world will undergo that kind of transformation, and that the synergy among these transformed objects will create phenomena and situations that we can’t anticipate – that’s the key thing: our inability to anticipate the synergies between our technologies.
The universe is not what physics tells us it is. Physics tells us that the universe is a physical system, an entropic system, that was born in immense energy and chaos, and will run down with a whimper, not a bang, into heat entropy and dissipation. The psychadelic data on this is completely different, it says what that model left out was biology and mind.
Biology is not a static thing... . Biology constantly changes the context in which evolution occurs. The biological universe is a novelty conserving engine, upon simple molucles are built complex molecules, upon complex molecules are built complex polymers, upon complex polymers comes DNA, out of DNA comes the whole machinery of the cell, out of cells comes simple aggregate colonies [of cells], animals like Hydra and that sort of thing, out of that, true animals, out of that ever more complex animals with organs of locomotion, organs of sight, organs of complex mental machinary for the coordinating of data in time and space. This is the whole story of life. And in our species it reaches its culmination, and it crosses over to a new domain where change no longer occurs in the biological machinery, it begins to take place in this world we call mental, its called epigenetic change, change which cannot be traced back to the mutation of the arrangements of molecules inside long chain polymers, but change taking place in syntactical structures that are linguistically based, and people have probably being using language with considerable facility for probably around 50,000 years, possibly more. In our own time we have created ever more elaborate languages, ever more elaborate technologies for transforming, storing and retrieving language, so that we are on the brink of giving every one of you the complete cultural inventory... that's what these data highways and networks are all about-- the nervous system is being hardwired. But what I wanted to draw your attentoin to about this, is it is not only an advance deeper and deeper into novelty, buts its an advance in which each successive stage occurs more quickly than the stage which preceeded it. So once you get the big bang then nothing much happens for a long long time, I mean there's plasma streaming through the universe, the universe is slowly cooling, but that's the most complex process in the universe, then after a certain point more complex processes come in, complexification begins to build, and as it builds it begins to happen faster and faster. And the great puzzle in the biological record is the suddenness of our own emergence, human emergence, out of the primate line; it happened with enormous suddenness, Lumholtz calls it the most explosive reorganization of a major organ of a higher animal in the entire fossile record.
I think this idea, which may be the proof that I am bonkers, requires a fairly radical reorganization of consciousness, because what I am saying is that the universe is not born on a fiery explosion from which it is being blasted outward ever since, the universe is not being pushed like that, from behind, the universe is being pulled, from the future, toward a goal, that is as inevitable as a marble reaching the bottom of a bowl when you release it up near the rim. You know if you do that the marble will roll down the side of the bowl and eventually it will come to rest in the lowest energy state which is the bottom of the bowl. That's precisely my model of human history. Now, bear in mind what the competition is peddling: the universe sprang from nothing in a single moment for no reason! [...] I'm suggesting that the universe is pulled towards a complex attractor that exists ahead of us in time. And that our ever accelerating speed through the phenomenal world... [cont. here after 2:18]
...if time were space history would be a spider web...
...after billions of years of evolution, everything finally comes together. Alfred North Whitehead proposed this same idea [in his Process and Reality]. He said that history grows toward what he called a "nexus" of completion. And these nexuses of completion themselves grow together into what he called the "concrescence." [...] A concrescence exerts a kind of attraction, which can be thought of as the temporal equivalent of gravity, so that all objects in the universe are drawn through time, not space.
The universe is becoming more complex, faster and faster. The idea being you see that each epoch, being shorter than the one that preceded it, this generates an asintopic curve of approach. Its become a cliche of our culture, that time is speeding up. It actually is speeding up, its not that it 'seems' like its speeding up, or it 'looks' like its speeding up, it is speeding up. We and our entire world are being drawn into confrontation with something that at this level is lost below the event horizon of rational apprehension. [...] There will come a moment when it will rise above the horizon of rational apprehension...
I think that history is a set of nested resonances, this is what I mean when I say nothing is unannounced, nothing can take you by surprise if you've really been paying attention, because everything is preceeded by its harbingers and heralds. And we are living in an era where there is a great deal of apocalyptic expectation and anticipation and hysteria for several reasons,... we're approaching a mellenial year and that will always exacerbate this christian thing outrageously... and there is the physical evidences all around us that we are the witnesses of a planetary crisis we cannot control or manage. I mean its very hard to believe that we could manage ourselves back into a steady state. 1:59:20
Imagine an observer standing outside the event horizon of a black hole watching an object approach the black hole, what you see, and this is similar to the argument or example I gave a few minutes ago with the marble on the edge of the bowl, what you see-- lets make it a space-craft-- as the space-craft approaches the event hoziron of the black hole, its caught in the gravitational forces of the black hole, and it begins to go faster and faster and at a certian point it disappears into the singularity, this is from the point of view of an observer outside the system; now we flash to the stalwart captain and crew on the bridge of this star-ship, what happens from their point of view, is as they sink below the event horizon of the black hole and start the decent towards the singularity, time and space are dialated so dramatically that the singularity receeds to an infinite distance and you fall forever.
This is one way of thinking about it. Our planet is on a collision course with something, which we, at our present state of knowledge, don't have the words for. A black hole is simply a gravitationally massive object, so massive that no light can leave it. What I'm talking about is something like that, except that it isn't so much gravitationally massive as temporally massive. We are being sucked into the body of eternity.
History is like a set of nested resonances with each epoch being shorter than the one that preceded it. This event horizon is like a series of ghost horizons, and once you enter into history, you enter into the outer shell of the temporal field of the attractor or the concrescence. In other words, history is the disturbance in nature which precedes the concrescence. It precedes it by only 50 thousand years -- a geological microsecond -- before all life is melted down in the presence of the singularity. History is a curious interzone that is not the singularity and not the absence of the singularity; it's the singularity in the act of becoming [note: in Dream Awake he speaks in terms of neither ape or 'digital god', and above neither fish nor land animal]. It only lasts a geological microsecond, but if you happen to be born as we are, inside that microsecond, then you have a very curious perspective on the phenomenon because you observe it from inside.
...love. That is part of the eschaton that has never left us, but accompanied us across the African grassland and into history. Love has been bloodied and battered by the experiences of sexism and racism and so forth. But never lost as an ideal, never lost as a guiding light and an experience, and when we dissolve all the boundaries, this is what we will discover; an unconditional caring, an unconditional affection that goes through all life and all matter and gives it meaning. You don't have to wait for the end of the world to get this news. You can just short circuit the collective march toward that realization by accelerating your own microcosm of spirituality through the use of the hallucinogens. They are the doorways that the Gaian mind has installed in the historical process to let anybody out any time they want out, provided they have the courage to turn the knob and walk through the door.
[note sure where this fits in:] As we approach the lip of this cascade into concrescence, novelty, and completion, time seems to speed up and boundaries begin to dissolve. The more boundaries that dissolve, the closer to the concrescence we are. When we finally reach it, there will be no boundaries, only eternity.
[note include theme of a human being as a concrescence, and biology as constituting its own environment-- both these themes link up with the earlier themes of 'synergy' between self-transcending technologies, and the general theme of 'complexification'. Also, he using the phrase 'vehicle of history' in relation to the 'shells', along with the passage about the 'disco ball' analogy, which is actually above under a different head]
[The World and its Double, 19??]
...I recently read a very interesting book called “A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History” by Michael [Manuel] De Landa, and if you get a chance you should take a look at this. And he made a point, which caused me to expand his point into this little thing I’m gonna tell you now, but his point was that uh, human beings are very involved in the movement of geological material. That as a species we move rocks around on a very large scale and of course it’s interesting that the ear-some of the earliest human structures are the most physically massive and weighty, like the great pyramids. So De Landa made this point about our relationship with the the geological stratigraphy of the earth, and that cities were a kind of geological extension of the process of crystallization carried on through the intermediation of a biological unit i.e. intelligent primates who are building these structures. And, uh I thought that was very interesting. I had never considered it before.
I've talked about virtual reality and I've said that it’s nothing new that Ur was a virtual reality and Çatalhöyük was a virtual reality, but done in stucco and fired ceramic and stone. And that when the medium is so intractable as stone the epistemic assumptions that get formed about what reality is are very different then if you can build Versailles at the click of a mouse button. Uh, but nevertheless it’s the same. But embedded in my reading of De Landa was, I've been thinking a lot and I talked to you a lot last year about artificial intelligences and minds which are not human. Minds which are very different from us. Intelligence which is very different from us. Uh, you know, while the naïve are scanning the stars our appliances have become telepathic. We- there is a very strange kind of intelligence being called into existence by ourselves, strangely enough, and this is the connection to De Landa. This artificial intelligence which is being called into being by human activity is made of the same materials as Ur and Çatalhöyük. It’s made of ceramics, glasses, and metals. It's that, uh-so then I took this on board and thought about it and I, I've sort of come to some kind of ‘Cyber pantheistic Emersonianism’, [audience chuckles] which is, uh … I’ll give it to you as a headline and then work backwards so that in case I forget what I’m saying it won’t be lost to suffering mankind. [audience laughs]
The earth’s strategy for its own salvation is through machines – is what it is. And, human beings are some kind of uh – we are the deputized spouse. We are the bride in this alchemical rarefaction of glasses, ceramics, metals and uh, and volatile materials. Apparently the earth is like some kind of an embryonic, uh or fetal thing. And at the end of its gestation what is happening is, it is ramifying its nervous system – is appearing in its developmental- in the unfolding of its morphogenesis. And as we contemplate nanotechnologies and see ourselves working through bacteria and this sort of thing at the engineering level. You have to be blind to not then reflect back upon the fact that in some sense we are already working at that kind of level, at the behest of it is not clear who. Because nobody ever asked the question in quite this way before. The answer to who, I think, is, is the earth. And that what lies ahead at the end of the linear tunnel of, of Western subjectivist, positivist, structuralist, assumptions that we've been operating, when we hit the end of the tunnel and burst out into the larger mental space of cosmic evolution, what we are going to find is that we are partners, actors in a cosmic drama that involves the earth at one polarity and machine at the other polarity as the expression of the will of the earth toward a kind of self reflective transcendence that is achieved through machine-human-biotic symbiosis. And this is, you know, there will never be a headline which says this. Some people won't even notice that it’s happening because these large scale processes can be described by many metaphors at many depths, but I’m telling you I think this is what’s going on.
The reason I like this story is because it’s not a story about processes out of control. It’s not a story about human guilt. It’s not a story full of we musts and we should. It’s a story, which gives honor to every part of the unfolding experience field, in other words biology, technology, human culture, human traditional values, transcendent human disextopian values. It’s a story of things on course on time and under budget [audience chuckles] and I assume that’s how nature really operates. And that we live inside some kind of anxiety-producing culture that is a necessary, I don’t want to say evil, but a necessary response to conditions of stress. Uh, there are processes which let, you know, waste, nuclear waste build up, urbanization, land disturbance, there are processes which if allowed to run on indefinitely would wreck the whole system and pitch it into chaos.
This is happening. It is already happening. I mean the Internet is this. ..it is, you know, a partner in the understanding of the world that is genie-like, that’s the image I have when I sit down to it. It is all John Dee would have asked of his archangelic messengers. He wanted instantaneous information on the political situation on the course of Europe. He wanted information on the course of Drake’s expedition, then on the other side of the planet. The internet is this kind of magical intelligent prosthesis.
The only people who in fact can see the game move against the background of the forest pattern are psychedelic heads [refering to the idea that Shamans use visionary plants to see into the future for things like being able to predict where the game will be]. Uh, you have to think about this stuff and you have to develop vocabularies for catching it in action. Uh, this is what the game of being an intellectual is, I think – trying to see the processes of morphological unfoldment in action and guess the direction in which it’s headed. Uh, because it’s inevitably headed toward greater density of information at greater speeds, higher level integrative metaphors, displayed visually rather than textually... . It becomes more and more like the interface of a computer, more and more like some kind of machine environment.
[Linear Societies and Non-Linear Drugs, 1999. ]